The North Dakota Senate's budget-writing committee backed a proposal to use Legacy Fund earnings for operating and maintaining the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Thursday.

The project has been a top priority for Gov. Doug Burgum, who sees the library as a boost to tourism in North Dakota.

A budget bill amendment offered by Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, would set aside $50 million in Legacy Fund earnings for an endowment fund to generate interest and earnings to operate and maintain the library. The fund would be managed by the Board of University and School Lands, which Burgum chairs.

But the proposal requires project backers to first raise $100 million to construct the library and donate $300,000 to the city of Dickinson for its costs in planning for a presidential library. A previous version of the project was slated for Dickinson but is now planned to be built in Medora, and Wardner had expressed frustration at the change in location.

"We're telling potential donors that the state of North Dakota is committed to this," Wardner told the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday.

The panel agreed to attach the amendment to the legislative branch's budget before giving the bill a "do pass" recommendation. It's expected to be on the Senate floor next week.

“The governor appreciates the Legislature’s continuing efforts to match the $100 million in private funding as support for this transformational project continues to grow," Burgum's spokesman Mike Nowatzki said in a statement.

The bill amendment also budgets $10 million in Legacy Fund earnings for a separate endowment fund to digitize Roosevelt documents at Dickinson State University.

The Legacy Fund is the state's oil tax piggy bank created by voters in 2010. Lawmakers and others have floated various proposals for using its earnings, with the library being among the most high-profile ideas.

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