BISMARCK, N.D. — Legislators won’t return to Bismarck and attempt to override a veto by Gov. Doug Burgum that cuts funding for more than 1,600 townships across North Dakota, leaders said Tuesday.
“It’s not going to happen,” Grand Forks Republican Sen. Ray Holmberg told The Associated Press. “It would make little sense. I don’t think there are the votes.”
Holmberg heads a committee of 17 lawmakers that oversees the Legislature’s business between sessions.
Lawmakers adjourned their session last month. After lawmakers left town, the Republican governor vetoed a $16.1 million appropriation that would have provided $10,000 to each non-oil producing township. The townships received similar appropriations in the previous two sessions, and when North Dakota was flush with cash from a once-booming energy economy.
Burgum said in his veto message that the “across-the-board appropriation is both arbitrary and an inefficient use” of the state’s “scarce financial resources.”
The veto upset some rural officials who lobbied the Republican-controlled Legislature to override it.
The session lasted 77 days, just short of the 80-day maximum set by the North Dakota Constitution. The Legislature would have three days left to address the issue. A two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate would be needed to override the veto.
Republicans have more than two-thirds majorities in both the North Dakota House and Senate. But Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner of Dickinson said the number of votes needed to override the veto was uncertain.
Legislative leaders still want to leave the remaining days to address unforeseen problems, without the governor having to call a special session, Wardner said.
The North Dakota Legislative Council, the Legislature’s research arm, estimates the Legislature costs state taxpayers about $80,000 daily when it’s in session and a few thousand dollars less when not in session because fewer staff members are required to attend, the agency said.