RICH WARDNER and AL CARLSON: GOP lawmakers deliver for N.D.

BISMARCK -- The 2013 North Dakota legislative session has come to its conclusion, and its legacy will be one of great opportunity, challenge and outcome.

BISMARCK -- The 2013 North Dakota legislative session has come to its conclusion, and its legacy will be one of great opportunity, challenge and outcome.

For 80 days, we wrestled with decisions that would impact virtually every person in this state. We are pleased to report that Republicans this session have put North Dakota on a path that will keep our economy strong, meet the challenges of our growth and position our state to succeed today and long into the future.

Here are just a few of the highlights.

• We promised and we delivered historic tax relief. Not only did we reduce local property taxes by $866 million, we also put in place legislation that will limit the future growth of these taxes.

In addition, we cut personal and business income taxes by $250 million.


All told, the people of North Dakota will see more than $1.1 billion in tax relief from this legislative session -- the largest tax-relief package this state has ever seen.

• And when it comes to schools, our commitment didn't stop at property tax relief. This Legislature also passed unprecedented funding for K-12 education.

In addition to the school property tax relief, we increase funding for our children's schools by $800 million to more than $1.6 billion. We also put money in the budget to help rapidly growing schools build facilities and all schools improve their security to keep our children safe.

• We all understand the challenges that the dramatic growth our oil industry has created. Republican legislators rose to the challenge and designated more than $2.3 billion to infrastructure and essential services in western North Dakota. Cities, counties, schools, roads, law enforcement, emergency services, water systems, airports and health care providers all will benefit from this historic expansion of state funding.

But our investment in infrastructure doesn't end with the Bakken oil fields. The record-setting $900 million transportation bill will touch every county in the state. Included in this increase is first-time money for cities, counties and townships to address local road repair and maintenance and hundreds of millions of dollars more for our state highways.

• We also made major investments in flood prevention and water projects. Minot will get an additional $60 million to invest in flood protection and an extension of the popular Bank of North Dakota Rebuilders Loan program. The Legislature also upped the state's commitment to Fargo-area flood protection to $450 million -- $138 million of which is available this year -- and provided more funding for the Red River Valley Water Supply project.

In addition, the Western Area, Northwest Area and Southwest Pipeline water-supply projects all got new funding. In total, we invested more than $515 million in water projects across North Dakota.

• For those who might think Republican legislators do not care about people, consider this: The North Dakota Human Services budget for the next biennium will exceed $2.7 billion. We increased funding for programs that help better provide for our veterans, seniors, children and the disabled. We extended Medicaid coverage to more than 24,000 additional low-income families.


And this Legislature created new programs to make child care more available and affordable.

• Our work this session did more than just spend money. We passed significant new legislation designed to reduce drunk driving, prevent animal cruelty, preserve the integrity of our elections, reduce flaring, defend our Second Amendment rights and protect life.

And we have accomplished all this while keeping our state fiscally sound. Ongoing revenues are projected to be below ongoing expenses, and we have invested our surplus in one-time needed and necessary improvements across the state.

As a result, we delivered on the promise Republican lawmakers made to the people of North Dakota. We funded our priorities of education and infrastructure. We dramatically reduced taxes. And we saved for the future.

It has been hard work and long hours, but in the end, we got the job done for the citizens of this great state.

Sen. Wardner, R-Dickinson, is majority leader of the North Dakota Senate. Rep. Carlson, R-Fargo, is majority leader of the North Dakota House.

What To Read Next
Get Local