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WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 05, 2013, 06:14 PM

Majority Leader, Al Carlson, reflects on the Legislative session

(WDAY TV) -- The North Dakota legislature had 80 days to create the budget for the next two years. In those 80 days, they passed their largest budget yet, 14 billion dollars. They also passed some controversial abortion bills.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

(WDAY TV) -- The North Dakota legislature had 80 days to create the budget for the next two years. In those 80 days, they passed their largest budget yet, 14 billion dollars. They also passed some controversial abortion bills.

80 days after it started, the North Dakota legislature's longest session in history ended with their largest budget yet. It includes 1.1 billion dollars worth of tax relief.

The largest chunk of that relief comes from their final act: A property tax and education budget bill that kept them at the Capitol until about four a.m.

Carlson: "The property tax relief package is the biggest we've ever sent back from the state."

The state put $657 million into school relief, which will reduce property mills and go directly back to the taxpayers. $200-million more goes to county auditors for individual property tax bills.

Carlson: "When the people see it on their tax statement is when the real proof will happen."

Directly affecting our area, $137 million in flood protection was approved to create ring dikes and permanent levees in Fargo.

Carlson: "Plus the state made a commitment of up to $450 million of the next four bienniums for the diversion if it's approved. So, the state's standing there with its money, ready to go."

But the session had its share of controversy. Four anti-abortion bills brought national media coverage, as well as criticism from many saying the bills violate women's rights.

Carlson: "It's a controversial issue. It's an issue that you have to take a side and I don't think it violated women's rights at all."

Carlson, who has served 20 years in the state legislature, says he stands by his decisions this session.

Carlson: "I am not ashamed of the fact that I'm a conservative, that I'm very concerned about how we spend the people's money. It's not my money. Because of that, sometimes you get beat up because you don't say yes to everybody. But in the end, I think people have to look at the end product."

The legislature also passed a new higher education formula. Carlson says it provides about 4 to 5 million dollars more for NDSU, and puts restrictions on tuition increases.

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