Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum sat down with us to discuss North Dakota's budget and his plans for it if elected.
(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)
Chris Berg: Tonight's top story, NDGOP gubernatorial candidate says North Dakota must cut its budget.
I'm Chris Berg, thanks for joining us this Monday night. I sat down with Mr. Burgum earlier and asked him, what are you going to do to cut our budget by up to 25%?
We've seen things stabilize a little bit from the September numbers that came out. You just came out with a now ad about the main street initiative, talking about skilled workforce and helping communities and whatnot and part of that is helping corporations as well. Back in 2014, you were at the state technology conference. You --
Doug Burgum: That's not anything we called for as part of this campaign, and I think it's -- part of it is the realism of the budget situation that we're facing. The concept still applies, which is where capital moves to where you can best get -- allow us to reach our full potential as a state. We have to be able to track capital and states like California are putting up high barriers are losing jobs, losing corporations, they're moving to places like Texas, which has got a more attractive business climate. Ours is good.
CB: Would you be a proponent of this today?
DB: I think that was an option during the boom times. With revenue lower, some of these options are off the table because we're so dependent on revenue coming into the state from oil and gas, we have to be sure we're balancing our revenue -- because understand, our legislature this next session will be facing a challenge no legislature has every faced. We’re going to take as much as a billion and a half dollars out of a $6 billion budget.
CB: This is 2014, you're a great business mind, one of the things you said is inability to forecast. You’ve been in the state a long time, you know it's a -- why make the statement, people could go wait a second, maybe he's not seeing the future as well as he is -- changed your mind two days later.
DB: Conceptually this is what you want to do, make our state as attractive as you can to start here, grow here, move here. That’s how you win.so what I’ve said through this whole campaign, everything should be on the table in terms of ideas to make it more attractive.
CB: If you had think bill at your desk, would you sign it?
DB: Everything has to add up. If we think we can lower costs enough to make this an attractive move, certainly, everything is on the table.
CB: One of the things you talked about, this is your pledge, one is you said cut runaway spending, 25% budget cut. You get in office, number one, two three things you're going to cut are what specifically?
DB: Well, this is part of the challenge that we have as a -- any government anywhere in the world because the big budget items that you have are education, you know, healthcare and human services and for us, another big one has been everything we're spending on corrections. Those are the big three things.so this is -- we've said this is not a belt tightening exercise. This is not a chopping block exercise. But if you just go to the chopping block, then the image there is there's a mess left over. This is an opportunity for us to reinvent how we think about delivering services. If you spend a dollar on treating addiction upfront versus the same person costs you to incarcerate them -- $20 to incarcerate them, that incentive to move them upstream has a higher return.
CB: What you said today is we're going to have to cut $1.5 billion, 25% budget cut, what are two or three things, you walk in the door and go look, these are things I’m going to have to chop.
DB: You don't get to that number without it touching everything. I can't --
CB: Give me two things.
DB: Take the state budget and start lowering the number, because everything is going to be touched by this size of budget cut.
CB: Give me two specific things you're going to cut.
DB: We've seen a lot of spending going into new infrastructure, water projects, new med school at NDSU, people were like, let's pay cash. I would anticipate that the capital spending on new projects in North Dakota, that thing is going to go from where it was, which was in the billions last year, that thing could go toward zero.so that spending could drive down very quickly and I think everyone would agree that that has to happen. Then we get into the next wave of things, how do we keep delivering the primary services without missing out on providing what we need for most potential services.
CB: You've got a big job in front of you, I want to have you in more soon. Last question, quick question to get some clarity for Tammy Sadek. Do a bill would hit your desk and you were going to become a confidential informant and that person has legal representation, would you sign off on a bill like that?
DB: That's a prudent thing to do, because as we've seen there's tremendous risk in doing this and I think, again, people need to understand what their rights are and what their alternatives are. People have seen the tape of that interaction and it certainly seems it would be a simple thing for allowing a person in that position to have legal representation.
CB: Mr. Burgum, great to have you here.
DB: Thanks so much.
CB: What are we, 19 days away, good luck on the campaign trail. Stick around, I’d love to know your point of view. Or head to our website, povnow.tv.