April 30, 2009

House OK’s highway bill

House OK’s highway bill
By STU MERRY
It’s looking like there might be additional funds coming to counties in North Dakota for road construction and repair in the aftermath of record flooding and snow damage.
This past Friday, House lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a $1.4 billion transportation funding bill that could be a balm for state and county officials who are scratching their heads, wondering how they are going to pay for all the repairs.
District 8 Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, who helped draft the new budget proposal, cautioned that the final figure has yet to be determined.
Delzer said the Department of Transportation budget bill (SB2012) is this week in Conference Committee as the Senate aide of the aisle did not concur with the House amendments to the bill.
“The figures are still fluid,” he said.
The Conference Committee is comprised of three senators and three representatives. Delzer is one of the representatives from the House. A final figure will be decided soon as the Legislature comes to a close in the next few days.
“Who knows what’s going to come out of there,” Delzer said. “We haven’t heard what they (Senate) have to say. It will probably take 2-3 meetings to haggle out the differences.”
Delzer said he liked what the House did in response to the cry for help by the counties and state.
“It provided a quick infusion of cash to fix roads,” he said. ”A lot of work went into this bill.”
The amended version of the bill was introduced to the House Appropriations Committee this past Thursday evening. Gov. John Hoeven originally proposed $120 million in infrastructure funding for the next two years. But before massive damage reports began filtering in, House Republicans were pondering cuts to the budget.
 


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