For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Baesler Pleased School Aid Is Priority In Governor’s Budget Plan
BISMARCK, N.D., April 18, 2018 – State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said she is pleased Gov. Doug Burgum has exempted state aid to schools from the suggested budget reductions he has asked North Dakota agencies to prepare for the 2019 Legislature.
“I am very happy and very grateful that the children of North Dakota, the students in our public school system, will not be impacted by this, and the strong commitment remains to support public education in this state,” Baesler said. “I believe that is a true and wise investment in our future.”
Burgum on Wednesday gave state agency administrators instructions on how they should prepare their spending plans for the state’s 2019-2021 budget period, which begins July 1, 2019.
Agencies with general fund budgets of $5 million or more must identify 10 percent in savings from their current spending, the governor said. Those with smaller budgets must find 5 percent reductions.
In addition, all agencies must find 3 percent “contingency” budget cuts to guard against commodity price shortfalls, and suggest employee reductions of 5 percent. Those workforce cuts would apply regardless of whether the affected job is paid for by state general funds, federal funds or other money sources.
Major grant programs, such as state aid to schools and Medicaid, will be exempted from the budget reduction calculations, the governor said. During the 2017-19 biennium, $1.94 billion of the Department of Public Instruction’s $2.33 billion budget was reserved for state school aid, with per-student payments set at $9,646 per student for both school years.
“I think all of the school superintendents and school boards across the state were waiting with bated breath, wanting to know what types of cuts and reductions they may need to make, and I think they’re going to be very relieved,” Baesler said. “I also understand that they, too, respect the obligation that they have to continue to provide high-quality services with the same amount of money for our students.”
Baesler said the NDDPI has worked to become more efficient during the state’s budget difficulties. In the 2017 Legislature, the agency’s number of employees was trimmed from 100 to 92, which necessitated some layoffs, she said.
“We are absolutely going to do our part to support the governor’s budget, and provide the efficiencies that are necessary for our state as we move through this time of a downturn in revenue,” Baesler said.