BISMARCK — The Republican leader in the North Dakota House proposed a slimmed-down bonding package for campus capital projects Friday, April 5, reducing funding for North Dakota State University's top two building priorities.
The bill amendment presented by House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, offers $40 million for replacing Dunbar Hall, a chemistry lab building that's considered a fire safety hazard. That's down from $51.2 million approved by the Senate.
The amendment also removes $54 million for a replacement for Harris Hall, an agricultural research and instruction building, as well as $10 million for the related Northern Crops Institute project.
The House Appropriations Committee didn't act on Pollert's amendments Friday.
The proposal didn't sit well with West Fargo Republican Rep. Michael Howe. Though the amendments would allow NDSU to raise funds to make up the difference for Dunbar Hall, he said that would be an impossible task for a general education building.
"This project has been on the radar for a long time now," Howe said.
Pollert said he's "not an advocate of a lot of bonding" because it leaves the state "on the hook for 20 to 30 years."
Pollert also suggested that NDSU should consider reducing the size of the Dunbar project. Indeed, his proposal would require the university to start construction by mid-2020 and "adjust the scope of the project as necessary to match the amount of cash available."
Pollert said NDSU sees Dunbar Hall as a higher priority than Harris Hall due to its safety issues, while Harris carries better prospects for fundraising.
A NDSU spokeswoman said they "look forward to the results of the committee’s discussion."
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, indicated that the bill will end up in a conference committee so the House and Senate can work out differences before the session's end.