Gov. Jack Dalrymple, First Lady want us to ‘create the future’
|A strong admirer of the N.D. National Guard, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, left, greets Senior Airman Kelsey Peterson upon her return from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan last July at Hector International Airport, Fargo. Also returning were, from left: Senior Airmen Shelly Pherson and Senior airman Tracey Mauch of the 119th logistics Readiness Squadron. (Photo Dept. of Defense by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)
National Guard family
The couple talked about recent experiences with another important family in the state – the North Dakota National Guard. They had just spent extraordinary time with the families of Spc. Tyler Orgaard and Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde, killed in military action in Afghanistan. The Dalrymples have high praise for what Guard members do for this state.
“We are so proud of them in North Dakota. They are family to us,” Gov. Dalrymple said, adding that people sign up for the National Guard in North Dakota at a higher rate than any other state in the nation. He said what makes Guard members of this post-9/11 era special is they volunteer, and, in some cases, make the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in places like Afghanistan.
“These are just topnotch people and we really saw it in the floods in 2011,” Gov. Dalrymple said. “On one day in 2011, we had 3,000 Guardsman on duty in North Dakota, fighting floods throughout the state. How could you possibly replace that in any other way?”
Investment supporting growth
For the current Legislature, Gov. Dalrymple and legislators will wrestle with the challenges of unprecedented increases in state revenues and how to channel those revenues to sustain growth and communities.
“Everybody needs to realize that we are a unique state in the United States right now. We are a rapidly growing state, unlike almost any other in the nation,” Gov. Dalrymple said. “Our economy is very strong. We have financial reserves. And we have the lowest unemployment in the United States. That means we have challenges that no other state has right now.”
“I think the best use of our cash reserves in North Dakota now is to make long-term investments in our infrastructure,” Gov. Dalrymple said. He said this involves roads and highways, but should also address other components such as housing, sewer and water.
The governor’s proposed 2013-2015 biennial budget recommends $2.5 billion be spent for statewide transportation upgrades. He said, while the oil-booming region is a much-discussed target for this investment, the rest of the state needs growth-related support services.
“It's funny how much people talk about western North Dakota – you would think that was the only thing going on in our state,” Gov. Dalrymple said. “In reality, our unemployment rate is extremely low in almost every county. We have the same kinds of needs everywhere – there is tremendous demand for improvement and reconstruction of roads and highways in the east, and we have population expansion in the east, as well.”
Gov. Dalrymple said the need for boosting law enforcement and criminal justice in western North Dakota is important, and is being addressed. He said the state has been increasing the highway patrol presence in the west, through training new troopers and relocating others.
The governor’s biennial budget recommendation includes $3.8 million in additional funding for 15 additional highway patrol troopers. “They are a big support to all of our local law enforcement,” Gov. Dalrymple said.
Gov. Dalrymple said he is also proposing more full-time positions in criminal investigation, judicial administration and corrections.