Is Swapping One Position for Two Shrinking Government?

Ron Rauschenberger
Ron Rauschenberger

Governor Burgum announced the staff for his office on Thursday and along with it a “new model to deliver results.” There certainly are some recognizable names. I don’t really have anything against the people Burgum decided to hire. Of course, the one hire that leaves me shaking my head is Ron Rauschenberger serving as the senior advisor. Rauschenberger has served as Chief of Staff for the two previous administrations and was the recipient of a retention bonus from Dalrymple last year. $31,960 of taxpayer money so Ron “wouldn’t leave” state government as if that was ever his intention.

READ RETENTION BONUSES AND CABINET APPOINTMENTS

Outside of the Rauschenberger hire, this entry isn’t to criticize Burgum or his staff. I hope they are successful. I do have questions about the “new model to deliver results,” however. Governor Burgum has said he is doing away with the Chief of Staff and creating two separate Chief Officers. Sounds cool and business-like, right?

Here are the questions I have. How is eliminating one position and replacing it with two shrinking state government? That was a focus of Burgum’s during the campaign. I hope the cut backs aren’t just on the services side of government. I can’t imagine the salary for these two positions is just to split the old salary of the Chief of Staff in half either. Is there another position in the Governor’s office that is being eliminated to shore up dollars? Or, is this position going to be paid by Burgum returning his salary as he promised on the campaign trail. Don’t forget; our tax dollars will go to the generous health insurance of this new position also.

Why do I sound so cynical (more than other times, perhaps)? Because this is what the legislature will be looking at when they meet in January. Governor Burgum can revamp the structure of the office but it is the legislature that will approve the expansion of staff or not. Some have a laser beam focus on an acronym of “FTE,” Full Time Equivalent. I can already hear Rep. Jeff Delzer, Chair of House Appropriations, groaning at the sight of “FTE” in the Governor’s office budget.

“Al won’t like this!” – Rep. Jeff Delzer, probably.

I’ve implied this before; I think the power struggle between the Legislature and the new Governor will be on full display this session. Some of these legislators were criticized by Burgum before June. They haven’t forgotten, believe me.

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