Vote explained

Bob Paulson


There have been several stories in the Minot Daily News of late that have highlighted the failure of SB 2275 in the recent legislative session. I thought it might be helpful to bring a little more context to the conversation.

SB 2275 was a bill to allow $500M in bonding for infrastructure projects across the state. As it was explained to me when I researched the details of the bill, this would have represented an unprecedented level of bonding by the state. What I was told was that our current debt servicing ceiling is $47M. The debt service on this bill alone would have been $55M, which would have required us to vote to amend our debt ceiling. Historically, our bond payments have never been above $20M per biennium, with the current biennial bond payment (at the time of the 2275 discussion) being around $17M.

There was a total of 4 bonding bills being considered during session. The cumulative bond authorization of all 4 would have been over $1B, with a payment for all of them being $122M/biennium compared to our current payment of $17M.

As a fiscal conservative, I was not in favor of raising our debt ceiling, especially when we have not gotten even halfway to it historically. I communicated my concerns with Minot city leadership, and they made a compelling case of cost savings of roughly $100M over the life of the flood control project. So, while greatly conflicted, I joined the majority of the Minot delegation in voting for SB 2275. The bill failed in the House by a vote of 34-55, with 5 absent. Hopefully, the context above gives a better understanding of why it failed.

Paulson is a State Representative from District 3