The week that was
STILL GROWING We welcome the news that North Dakota’s general fund surplus is growing at an unexpected rate, with the official estimate that the state’s surplus will be at $457 million when the budget cycle ends on June 30, 2015. Last May, state officials estimated the budget surplus to be $87 million. Needless to say, that means the proposed state budget for 2015-2017 will almost certainly be more than the $14 million budget created for the 2013-2015 biennium. The new estimate means there will be a lot of unexpected money flowing into the state’s general fund. It will be up to state agencies and the members of the Legislature to use that money wisely in the upcoming years.
ENERGY SECURITY A former adviser to President Barack Obama is urging the president to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline as a way of sending a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Retired Gen. James Jones, the former national security adviser, said approving the controversial pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands region to refineries in the southern United States, would tell Putin that “international bullies” cannot use energy security as a threat. We don’t necessarily disagree with Jones, but remember this: After leaving the Obama administration in 2012, Jones now works for the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, both groups that support the pipeline’s construction. Still, Jones’ statement is yet another reason for Obama to approve the controversial pipeline project, which has been on hold for years awaiting approval from the State Department and Obama.