Dakota Download Governor Burgum's Weekly Update - January 28, 2024

In 2024 State of the State Address, Burgum calls for action to address housing needs, announces new office focused on rural prosperity

Gov. Doug Burgum delivered his 2024 State of the State Address on Tuesday, announcing an initiative to develop a comprehensive housing strategy for North Dakota as well as the launch of a new Office of Community Development & Rural Prosperity to empower communities through efficient development, economic growth and enhanced quality of life.

In his final State of the State Address as governor, Burgum addressed students, business leaders, legislators, statewide elected officials, local leaders and others in Dorothy Stickney Auditorium at Dickinson State University. The governor noted how his time sharing North Dakota’s story with the nation over the past several months underscored the need to do a better job of raising awareness about the state’s status as an agriculture and energy juggernaut.

"Today, the State of our State is underestimated – yet we have never been stronger,” Burgum said, noting North Dakota is tied with Maryland for the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 1.9% and has an incredibly strong balance sheet, full reserve funds and record population.

With reserves exceeding $1.3 billion and general fund revenues already running more than $154 million, or 11%, ahead of forecast just six months into the two-year budget cycle, Burgum renewed his call for North Dakota to become the 10th state to eliminate individual state income tax as a way to save taxpayers money and boost workforce recruitment and retention. Last April, the Legislature passed and Burgum signed a historic $515 million income and property tax package that included a record $358 million in income tax relief, effectively eliminating the individual income tax for 3 out of 5 North Dakota taxpayers.

“We have taken incremental steps for far too long. It is time we say goodbye to the state income tax. This is a tax collected by the state, controlled by the state and used by the state – so the time is now to tell our citizens, your money belongs in your pockets,” Burgum said. “I challenge the 69th Legislative Assembly to take that final step, join the nine other states with no income tax and eliminate our state income tax once and for all.”

With workforce still the No. 1 barrier to economic growth in North Dakota, the Legislature and Burgum administration tackled a major roadblock to workforce participation last year when they approved a $66 million package to address child care availability, affordability and quality. On Tuesday, Burgum called for similar collaboration through a series of listening sessions among public and private stakeholders in the housing sector to identify solutions to the state’s housing shortage and develop a comprehensive housing plan for the 2025 Legislature to consider. The effort will focus on improving housing availability, affordability and stability.

“As we continue to grow and attract new residents, new workforce, we must ensure that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and quality housing,” Burgum said.

The Office of Community Development & Rural Prosperity will be located within the Department of Commerce and will focus on key initiatives to drive sustainable growth and prosperity across the state, including strengthening collaboration and coordination among stakeholders, enhanced focus and strategic planning tailored to the unique needs of each community, and supporting economic diversification to make rural areas more resilient.

“North Dakota’s long-term prosperity depends on the success of its communities and rural areas,” Burgum said. “The Office of Community Development & Rural Prosperity marks a crucial step in driving economic progress across our entire state.”

Burgum stressed the need to double down on efforts to make North Dakota the most military-friendly state in the nation. The governor signed a proclamation declaring 2024 as the Veteran and Military Suicide Prevention and Awareness Year, inspired by, and developed in conjunction with, the American Legion’s “Be the One” program to clearly connect with veterans struggling with the thought of suicide. Burgum also announced that the state will expand marketing of the 988 Suicide and Crisis hotline, starting immediately with the Governor’s Office website and each cabinet agency displaying the 988 icon with links to resources for anyone in need.

“We encourage any state agency, government entity or business to follow suit and proudly display the 988 icon to raise awareness around suicide and destigmatize the fear of asking for mental health support,” Burgum said.

Burgum also announced that the Theodore Roosevelt Center at DSU will house the Morris Archives, an extensive collection of private research and memorabilia from Pulitzer Prize-winning history Edmund Morris, who wrote extensively about Roosevelt including well-known works such as “Theodore Rex” and “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt.” The Morris Archives were recently acquired by the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Burgum announces he won’t seek third term, highlights progress made during time as governor

Gov. Burgum announced on Monday that he will not seek a third term as governor, highlighting the progress made during his two terms in office, which will conclude Dec. 14, 2024.

“Serving as governor and first lady of the great state of North Dakota has been one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of our lives. Kathryn and I are eternally grateful to the citizens of North Dakota for twice giving us this opportunity to serve the state we love so much,” Burgum said.

Burgum was elected to serve as North Dakota’s 33rd governor in November 2016 and took office Dec. 15, 2016. He was re-elected to a second term in November 2020.

“We’ve made incredible progress these past seven years, from record tax relief and historic investments in infrastructure, education and other priorities, to guiding our state through historic challenges including drought, flooding, the DAPL protests and a global pandemic. We’ve diversified our economy and grown our agriculture and energy industries, revitalized Main Streets and supported healthy, vibrant communities, reinvented government to be more efficient and effective, improved state-tribal relations and helped eliminate the shame and stigma of the disease of addiction while inspiring people to seek recovery,” Burgum said. “There’s never been a better time to live, work and raise a family in North Dakota. Our state is extremely well-positioned for the future thanks to the efforts of everyone on Team ND to empower people, improve lives and inspire success.”

Burgum statement on Biden administration pausing exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) indefinitely

Gov. Burgum released the following statement Friday regarding the Biden administration’s action to pause pending decisions on exports of liquified natural gas (LNG). The action comes after the administration in September 2023 banned the transport of LNG by rail, reversing the authorization provided under President Donald Trump in 2020.

“As the world’s leading exporter of LNG, the United States plays a critical role in maintaining global security. The Biden administration’s decision to halt new LNG export approvals, even temporarily, undermines the security of all citizens of the United States and our allies,” Burgum said. “If President Biden truly cared about our economy and the global environment, he would want all energy produced in the United States, because we produce it cleaner, safer and more efficiently than other countries. This is yet another attack on U.S. energy producers and the U.S. workers and communities where they live. American energy production is good for the economy, good for the environment and good for world peace, and we should be selling U.S. energy to our friends and allies versus forcing them to be dependent on our adversaries like Russia.”

Miller helps welcome newest North Dakota Highway Patrol graduates

Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller on Friday helped welcome the newest graduates into the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

The graduation ceremony celebrated 19 Highway Patrol recruits who graduated from the academy's 24-week program. Of the 19 graduates, eight are new officers with no prior experience and 11 were hired with previous experience and attended an accelerated course.

"We’re excited to see you begin patrolling our highways and communities – keeping North Dakota a safe place to live and protecting our motorists, our families and our quality of life," Miller said.