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North Dakota House approves infrastructure bonding package



BISMARCK, N.D.  — The North Dakota House has overwhelming approved a proposed bonding package aimed largely at financing infrastructure projects across the state.

Representatives voted 74-17 to approve the bill Friday. It now heads to the Senate.

The $680 million package relies on earnings from the state’s voter-approved oil tax savings account to pay for the borrowed money.

The original bonding package sought $1.1 billion but House budget writers slashed that amount after grumbling among some lawmakers who believed it was attached to too many unnecessary extras, referred to as “Christmas tree” items.

The bill now allots three-quarters of the amended funding for flood-control projects: $435.5 million in Fargo and $74.5 million for the Minot area. The bill also includes $70 million for highway and bridge infrastructure and $50 million for an agriculture development center at North Dakota State University in Fargo.

Lawmakers say the aim is to pay off the bonds in 20 years or less using earnings from the state’s oil tax savings account, known as the Legacy Fund, which voters enacted in 2010. The fund contains about $8 billion and is expected to earn about $500 million in the next two-year budget cycle.