State of the State Address calls for action to address workforce challenges, invest in North Dakota’s future
Gov. Doug Burgum delivered his 2019 State of the State Address on Thursday, reflecting on substantial progress made during his first two years in office and outlining an ambitious policy agenda that addresses the state’s workforce challenges, increases accountability and budget transparency and makes major investments in people and projects that will benefit North Dakotans today and well into the future.
North Dakota is positioned to make smart, bold investments with long-lasting impacts while delivering a fiscally conservative and structurally sound budget that improves transparency and replenishes reserves – all without raising taxes, Burgum said.
“We stand at the cusp of a new era in North Dakota’s history. And by harnessing the courage to dare greatly, we will cultivate a prosperous future for generations to come. With action, we will shine,” Burgum said.
The governor outlined several proposals to address North Dakota's workforce challenges, including support for career academies, reforming occupational licensing and shifting from single-board governance for higher education to a multi-board governance model.
Burgum also reviewed key components of his 2019-21 Executive Budget proposal: replenishing rainy day savings, increasing transparency, investing in people and leveraging Legacy Fund earnings to support long-lasting initiatives across the state.
The written address can be found at the link below, along with a helpful handout outlining a plan for North Dakota's future.
Flags of five tribal nations displayed in Memorial Hall
Gov. Burgum announced in his State of the State Address that the Governor's Office will display the flags of the five tribal nations in North Dakota in the Capitol's Memorial Hall.
"In the spirit of mutual respect," Burgum said, "we're honored to announce that the Governor's Office will begin to display the flags of the five tribal nations with whom we share geography outside of the Governor's Office in Memorial Hall."
The flags will serve as a constant reminder of the strong relationships as the state and tribal nations work together to serve all North Dakotans.
K-12, higher education task forces submit final reports and recommendations
Gov. Burgum expressed his gratitude for the members of the K-12 Innovative Education Task Force and the Task Force for Higher Education Governance as the two groups submitted their final reports and recommendations on the final day of 2018.
Burgum created the Innovative Education Task Force through an executive order in September 2017 to establish a system of identifying and supporting schools and districts implementing innovative practices. The 15-member panel also was tasked with providing direction on how state government can empower districts to adopt student-centric learning practices designed to support a 21st century economy impacted by rapid technological change.
“It’s our hope this report sparks conversations around cafeteria tables and in classrooms across the state about how student-centric learning can best prepare our students for the rapidly evolving world they will inherit,” Burgum said.
The Task Force on Higher Education Governance, created in November 2017, was tasked with assessing the existing governance structure for higher education in North Dakota, which has remained largely unchanged since being adopted by voters in 1938, and determining if changes are needed to ensure the system meets the state’s educational and workforce needs in the 21st century.
Task Force members voted to recommend a three-board governance model for the state’s 11 public colleges and universities as an improvement to the current single-board model. One board would govern the state’s nine regional and community institutions, and each of the state’s two research universities would have its own governing board.
“The Task Force believes that these recommendations would improve the governance structure of North Dakota higher education, allowing it to serve as a nimble and effective structure for decades to come,” the report states.
The full reports of each Task Force can be found at the link below.
Burgum establishes Lower Pembina River Basin Advisory Board
Gov. Burgum has signed an executive order creating the Lower Pembina River Basin Advisory Board to address water management and flooding issues in the basin and resolve interjurisdictional conflicts with the Canadian province of Manitoba.
“Flooding in the Lower Pembina River Basin remains an ongoing concern for the citizens of northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba,” Burgum said. “As friendly neighbors, North Dakota and Manitoba mutually recognize and support the establishment of an interjurisdictional advisory board focused on reaching collaborative solutions to flood control.”
A Pembina River Basin Task Board met intermittently from 1960 to 2012 but has been inactive since then. The newly established Lower Pembina River Basin Advisory Board will have 12 voting members, with the North Dakota governor and premier of Manitoba each appointing six members.
The board will meet at least twice per year and submit annual reports to the governor and premier.
Minnesota DNR approves permit for Fargo-Moorhead area flood diversion project
Gov. Burgum thanked the Fargo-Moorhead Area Flood Diversion Task Force for their work, contributing to this week's landmark decision by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to grant a permit for the F-M Area Diversion Project, a major milestone in efforts to secure permanent protection against catastrophic flooding for the F-M metro area.
“Today’s historic decision by the Minnesota DNR was made possible by our Task Force’s willingness to collaborate and make data-driven recommendations to revive this stalled project, address concerns and arrive at the best possible outcome,” Burgum said. “This project will protect a crucial economic engine for the entire state of North Dakota and western Minnesota, safeguarding more than 95 percent of Cass County residents from catastrophic flooding and eliminating the need for homeowners and businesses to purchase costly flood insurance."
Burgum and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton met in October 2017 and jointly decided to create the 16-member F-M Area Flood Diversion Task Force to address the DNR’s concerns about the diversion project. The Task Force had eight members from each state, including representatives of upstream and downstream interests.
Burgum and Dayton co-chaired the Task Force, which convened five times in three months – aided by technical subcommittees that spent hundreds of hours analyzing alternatives – to try to reach consensus on components of the project. The group’s work ultimately led to the F-M Diversion Board of Authority submitting a new permit application to the DNR in March 2018.