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Burgum asks state agencies to tighten their belts

(The Center Square) – Gov. Doug Burgum called on state agencies Thursday to cut their budgets despite general fund revenues running nearly $213 million ahead of forecast for the current biennium.

Burgum, along with Office of Management and Budget Director Susan Sisk, issued budget guidelines for the 2025-2027 biennium to North Dakota state agencies, which included the call for agencies with budgets of more than $10 million in general or special funds to identify ways to reduce their budgets by 3%.

“Today, we’re issuing guidelines that ask agencies to tighten their belts, just as our citizens have had to tighten theirs due to the high prices of goods and services caused by high inflation,” Burgum said. “We realize that asking agencies to cut their budgets may seem counterintuitive when our state coffers and reserves are flush with cash. But the current trajectory of our overall state budget requires us to contain costs, and we must identify additional areas for efficiencies and savings if we’re to ensure that ongoing revenues can cover expenditures in the long term.”

Nine months into the two-year budget cycle, state general fund revenues are running ahead by 10.8%, according to the governor’s office. However, Burgum said the state’s overall budget requires a focus on savings.

The governor said agencies should look for ways to include automation to make up for a shortage of workers.

“Whether you’re in the private sector or government, our workforce shortage means we must capitalize on every opportunity to automate processes and free up our limited workforce to focus on high-value work,” Burgum said.

He said a lack of workers for could limit economic growth. Even though North Dakota has the lowest unemployment in the nation and one of the highest labor participation rates, it still has over 16,500 online open job listings and an estimated 30,000 available jobs, according to the governor’s office.

Burgum said agencies should look at ways to contain costs, innovate, and find efficiencies to fight off the impacts of inflation.

“Although our state is doing well financially, we have a variety of needs to be addressed which will require prioritizing and refocusing resources,” OMB Director Susan Sisk said. “The net effect of all of these adjustments will be a fairly flat starting point overall, although it will vary slightly by agency.”

Agencies who want to maintain their budgets higher than the base level will have to submit “decision package” proposals.

Burgum is not running for reelection and a new governor will be in office for the legislative session. U.S. Sen. Kelly Armstrong, who is endorsed by the North Dakota Republican Party, is facing Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, who has Burgum’s endorsement, in the June 11 Republican primary. State Sen. Merrill Piepkorn is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.


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