One of the issues that wore a little thin with some folks – including some legislators – was that of Doug Burgum’s campaign promise to reject his salary as governor. After taking office, Governor Burgum tried to make good on his promise by finding a legal avenue to do so. When he and his team met a dead end, the issue was taken up by the Legislature in House Bill 1001.
HB 1001 wasn’t without debate and opposition. Originally it would have reduced the governor’s salary to $1, but the House was having none of that. Ultimately, the House and Senate met with compromise in conference committee and agreed to set Governor Burgum’s salary at $132,964 a year, but with the agreement that if Burgum didn’t take the salary that it would revert back to the General Fund.
Well, today it was reported that Governor Burgum has decided to donate his salary since taking office in December to addiction recovery and treatment initiatives. The net total will amount to about $51,500. After July 1st, Burgum plans on rejecting his salary.
As I’ve read and listened to the debate over the issue, I’ve found it a bit amusing. I cannot count the number of times over the years that I’ve heard those in political office criticized for using their elected offices as a catalyst to benefit financially. Now when we have someone who wants to reject any financial benefit altogether, he’s criticized for it.
Even more amusing than that dynamic was the idea espoused by some that somehow Burgum’s desire to reject his salary would set a precedent for future governor’s and/or devalue the office. I just don’t see any of that being a reality.
Now personally, I believe the simplest thing for Governor Burgum to do would have been to simply accept and then donate his salary. The very thing he’s decided to do with the first half year of his salary. Doing so would have accomplished his getting paid, but not keeping the money.
Having said that, I get it that Burgum didn’t want the expense for the state. He simply wanted to set an example in an economic downturn. Regardless of how anybody feels about the issue. Regardless of the solution that a person feels was best. There is one thing I am certain of– this issue should have never been an issue at all. In the big picture, it was much to do about nothing.