BISMARCK - Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s budget includes a number of proposals aimed at meeting the demand for services related to the state’s growth, not only in western oil counties but across the state.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Law enforcement

The governor’s budget commits $90 million to law enforcement, including $27.5 million for a new training academy in Bismarck and $20 million in grants to help equip, train and staff departments in oil country.

Dalrymple wants lawmakers to grant Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s request for 19 additional positions in the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, including nine investigators and a victim’s advocate.

“With the assistance of the FBI, we are letting drug dealers and human traffickers know that North Dakota is the wrong place to do business,” he said, drawing loud applause from lawmakers.

Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider said human trafficking is “an absolute scourge” on western North Dakota, and Democrats will advocate for more victim assistance.

Dalrymple also proposes adding 13 parole and probation officers and four Highway Patrol troopers - which would make 25 new troopers in just the last three years - and spending $30 million to replace the Missouri River Correctional Center in Bismarck.


Dalrymple evoked memories of last year’s fiery derailment of an oil train near Casselton and massive oil pipeline spill near Tioga as he called for more staff to strengthen the state’s environmental protections and oversight of oil and gas drilling.

The request includes 19 Department of Health staffers, 22 new hires in the Department of Mineral Resources’ Oil and Gas Division and eight new Public Service Commission employees to check rail safety and help federal regulators monitor oil pipelines, which would be a first for the state.

The governor also made good on a pledge to propose raising the Outdoor Heritage Fund from $30 million per biennium to $50 million and to invest $30 million in parks, saying, “We can show everyone that preserving the outdoors is a top priority in North Dakota without a constitutional mandate” - a thinly veiled jab at Measure 5, the conservation fund measure rejected by voters last month.


Both K-12 and higher education would see their funding rise by more than $100 million in the next biennium, based on increases in formula payments.

Dalrymple called for $6 million in state funding for pre-kindergarten programs, an initiative announced Tuesday by GOP lawmakers. North Dakota is one of 10 states that don’t fund early childhood education for 4-year-olds.

Democrats said the $6 million would cover only half of the eligible children, and they’ll push for universal pre-K education.

Funding for merit- and needs-based scholarships would increase, which Democrats said they support. But they want Dalrymple’s proposed tuition freeze on two-year colleges extended to four-year institutions, as well.

Dalrymple recommends $145 million for capital projects, which would eliminate $42 million in deferred maintenance. Topping the list is $62 million to finish new digs for the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Water supply

Dalrymple is recommending $150 million for the long-delayed Red River Valley Water Supply Project designed to move Missouri River water to eastern North Dakota.

The budget also calls for $120 million to further develop the Western Area Water Supply project, which has received nearly $230 in state funds since 2011.

Other recommendations include $100 million for the Southwest Pipeline Project and $18 million for the Northwest Area Water Supply, and committing $100 million in grants and loans for a water treatment plant in Grand Forks to help spur economic growth in the northeast.

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