After one week, the special session of the North Dakota Legislature is over. But the incredible opportunity and potential unleashed in those five days is just beginning.
Major investments in infrastructure, workforce, economic development, health care, education and other priorities will benefit North Dakotans right now and for generations to come.
Prior to the special session, we outlined Accelerate ND, a plan to cut taxes, diversify our economy, avoid inflation and create long-term cost savings for citizens — all without growing government.
Thanks to strong alignment with lawmakers, we were able to fund our priorities and provide significant tax relief.
A week ago Friday, I signed legislation to provide an estimated $211 million in income tax relief over the next two years by eliminating the state income tax bill for approximately 300,000 North Dakota taxpayers and providing partial relief to another 200,000 taxpayers. The bill provides an income tax credit of up to $350 per year for resident individual income taxpayers, or $700 per year for individuals filing a married joint return, effective for tax years 2021 and 2022.
Half a million hardworking North Dakotans will receive responsive, meaningful tax relief for this year and the next. We’re deeply grateful to Bismarck Rep. Pat Heinert for introducing this legislation and to the entire Legislature for overwhelmingly approving this tax relief and improving upon our original proposal.
Our shared approach of conservative fiscal management has allowed us to put money back into the pockets of North Dakotans who kept working through the pandemic and supported our economic recovery, which benefits us all.
We also signed legislation eliminating the state tax on Social Security income, becoming the 38th state to do so. The bill, introduced by Sen. David Hogue of Minot, will provide an estimated $14.6 million in savings per biennium to approximately 20,000 North Dakota seniors.
Through wise use of our COVID relief dollars, we were able to strategically invest this latest round of federal funding to move North Dakota forward immediately.
Those investments include $150 million in matching grant support for a game-changing natural gas pipeline to carry gas from the state’s western oil patch to eastern North Dakota to serve communities and attract new industry, such as a recently announced wet corn mill in Grand Forks. This pipeline will help lift the ceiling on oil production by better utilizing the state’s abundant natural gas supplies, while also generating additional state tax revenue that supports the Legacy Fund and other state funds for schools, water projects and outdoor recreation.
Other infrastructure investments include $317 million – with an additional $135 million authorized – for roads and bridges, $75 million for critical water infrastructure, $45 million for broadband and nearly $23 million to upgrade state and local parks.
To address our state’s workforce challenges, we’ve approved $88 million in matching funds for private-sector investment in career centers, $38 million for Bismarck State College to create a Polytechnic Center to meet employer demand and $20 million for local workforce development incentive grants and technical skills training.
To support economic and energy development, there’s $20 million for hydrogen development grants as approved by the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority, $21 million for a fuel production facility incentive program and $10 million for autonomous agriculture matching grants.
To support health care, we approved $25 million in assistance for long-term care facilities and the State Hospital, $17 million for child care services, $4 million for community-based health care and $3 million each for Free Through Recovery and substance abuse treatment vouchers.
Lawmakers should be commended for seizing the unprecedented opportunity before them and investing in North Dakota’s future now, versus allowing the corrosive power of rising inflation to eat away at the investment power of these funds.
The result will be a North Dakota that’s more competitive on a national and global scale to attract the talent and capital we need for our state to reach its fullest potential. What a difference a week can make.