Governor Doug Burgum line-item vetoed a number of bills over the last couple of days. One of the budgets Burgum line-item vetoed was the Public Employees and Retirement System (PERS). Make no mistake; this was a direct rebuttal to House Majority Leader Al Carlson.
You may recall, the end of the session was drawn out by a power struggle between what Carlson wanted and what Senator Rich Wardner wanted. The two went back and forth over the PERS budget, funding for Dickinson State University, and other Higher Education prioritizes. A grand compromise was reached last week, and legislators went back home on Thursday.
The changes in the PERS budget would have added twelve legislators to the Health Care Coverage Committee and mandated the board to look at self-insurance. All of the changes in sections six through thirteen were Carlson demands. On May 2nd, Burgum vetoed sections six through thirteen. This is a welcome development for the public employees I’ve talked to.
It is an interesting display of authority. At the end of the legislative session, Burgum, Carlson, and Wardner stood at a podium and congratulated each other for completing the session. A couple of days later, Burgum removed a lot of what Carlson demanded after he left town. Wardner got to keep what he wanted. Were Wardner and Burgum in on this together?
Many of us have wondered where Burgum was during his first session. Perhaps this goes to show he was plotting all along. It will be curious to see if Carlson, known for his vindictive ways, will attempt to call the House back and try to override the veto. There are three legislative days left meaning leaders can call themselves back to work. It is highly doubtful the Senate would go along seeing its leader was a clear victor in this game of politics.