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Associated Press, Published December 15 2009

Overruns on new ND college president homes debated

BISMARCK, N.D. — Legislators say they won't endorse a $1.5 million cost overrun for building a new home for the president of North Dakota State University.

However, lawmakers did approve a smaller overrun for building a new home for the president of the University of North Dakota. The excess was almost $363,000.

The Legislature's interim Budget Section voted on the two projects today. The committee includes legislative leaders and lawmakers who are in charge of writing North Dakota's state budget.

The votes have no practical effect. The homes have already been built and the money spent. Lawmakers approved spending $900,000 on each house, and state law doesn't include a legal penalty for going over that.

House Republican Majority Leader Al Carlson of Fargo called the votes meaningless, and he said it didn't make sense for lawmakers to reject one cost overrun and endorse another one.

But legislators said they didn't want to approve the overspending at NDSU. Wahpeton Rep. Clark Williams says the overrun upset people across North Dakota, and he wasn't going to endorse it.

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