Burgum wants property tax cuts, increased cybersecurity
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Local governments should refrain from raising property taxes and lawmakers need to invest more to guard against ever-increasing cybersecurity attacks, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said Wednesday in his State of the State speech.
“The state of our state is strong and growing stronger by the day with our unshakable faith in the unlimited potential of North Dakota and its people,” the second-term Republican said during his 90-minute speech at the Fargo Theater.
Although Burgum used the speech largely to convey optimism, he touched on familiar themes of the past, including workforce shortages that have hamstrung the economy and the need to embrace and pursue more technology industries to diversify the economy.
The governor has long said North Dakota has more than 30,000 more jobs than takers at present.
Burgum, a wealthy former Microsoft executive who supported Donald Trump for president, took a few backhanded swipes at the Biden administration during the address, including what he called overreach into the “personal liberty and individuals’ personal health decisions” and excessive regulation on oil, coal and agriculture, the state’s top industries.
North Dakota is in a position to “feed and fuel the world,” he said. But “government needs to get out of the way to ensure a level playing field,” he said.
Burgum called on local governments to address soaring property taxes, which lawmakers have long said is the top gripe from their constituents.
Burgum said the state has done its part in attempting to provide property tax relief, including covering the costs of social services and some school funding that once were levied locally. But he said that relief must “actually find its way to citizens,” rather than being cancelled by increased property valuations and inflation.
State government, including North Dakota schools, had more than had 4.5 billion cyberattacks last year, more than double the number two years ago, Burgum said.
The state has invested more than $15 million to enhance cybersecurity in the past year. Burgum said the state is still facing “huge risks” and called on lawmakers to make addition investments in cybersecurity defense when the Legislature reconvenes next year.
Dressed in his trademark jeans and sport coat, he choked up during the speech, as he has in past years, including when he spoke of First lady Kathryn Burgum’s 20 years of sobriety.
He later joked that the sobriety milestone was especially difficult “being married to me.”
Burgum’s address was initially scheduled for last month but was postponed due to the governor having laryngitis.
Past governors typically did not give the address in off-years of the biennial Legislature. Burgum did so in 2018 in Minot and in 2020 in Grand Forks.
His speech was his third since January 2021, and seventh overall since being elected in 2016.