North Dakota House members on Friday passed the bill for the governor's office 2019-21 budget, which includes a salary for Gov. Doug Burgum he has preferred be eliminated.
The House passed the budget bill on a 78-6 vote. The House Appropriations Committee struck out a Senate provision of the bill that allows Burgum to not accept a salary. House budget writers allocated $274,112 for Burgum's next two-year salary.
The budget bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence on amendments.
Burgum, a wealthy former software executive who won election in 2016, ran on a vision of "reinventing" government, pledging to "cut runaway government spending, starting with my own salary."
The first-term Republican governor donated the salary from his first six months in office to the newly created Office of Recovery Reinvented, while his salary for the current two-year budget cycle will go into the state's general fund on July 1. Lawmakers fretted in the 2017 session how to appropriate a salary Burgum indicated he wanted to decline.
For the coming two-year budget cycle, Burgum asked that his salary from from July 1, 2019, to Dec. 14, 2020 — about $186,000 — be cut from the budget, but asked for about $80,000 for the months beyond his current term, should he not be re-elected nor seek a second term.
Committee members have said a governor not accepting a salary would set a precedent for future candidates, while leaving a potentially bad situation should Burgum resign or die and Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford ascend to the seat without pay. Governor's spokesman Mike Nowatzki has said Sanford is accepting his salary of $103,221.
The House vote came with little floor discussion and none related to Burgum's salary proposal, which Nowatzki previously said would fulfill his campaign pledge as "the taxpayers do not have to fund his salary."
Nowatzki previously declined to comment on the House amendments to the bill as the budget isn't yet final.