Governor Doug Burgum and area lawmakers are attempting to publicly blame Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney for the state’s failure to fully commit requested funding to the FM Diversion. The finger-pointing began after the Legislature had already decided to cut back their support in a conference committee. Yet, communication to lawmakers from Fargo’s Mayor is to blame? Don’t buy it.
The requested state commitment for the diversion began at $870 million entering the session. After the House cut back the state commitment, it was sent to conference committee. They ultimately landed at $750 million as a compromise between the chambers. Diversion proponents wanted to reject the committee report in a last ditch effort to get the full request. It was an uphill battle before Mahoney communicated with lawmakers. Officials trying to spin this are well aware of that. But now they’ve got what appears to be a scapegoat.
The diversion project has been a point of contention for years. Certain Lawmakers have repeatedly attempted to create barriers including lawmakers within city limits. I touched on this earlier. The failure to get the state commitment rests solely on those in Bismarck.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney doesn’t have a vote in the Legislature. He can’t get an amendment placed on a bill. He doesn’t have the bully pulpit of the Governor. He doesn’t have a veto pen. Could he have avoided the perceived misstep now being used as an excuse for legislative shortcomings? Perhaps. But to amplify that misstep as the reason why the state isn’t committing to the full request is weak.