The next two-year budget for North Dakota's Department of Human Services has broken the billion-dollar mark.
The state House and Senate approved a Human Services budget Wednesday that calls for state general fund spending just under $1.2 billion — a record state agency budget, The Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/162d0Ku ). The bill now goes to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature.
Human Services is the largest state agency, with more than 2,100 employees. Total spending for the department, including federal money, is estimated at just under $3 million over the next two years, the majority on Medicaid services.
Human Services Director Maggie Anderson said her agency's budget sends most of the money right back out the door. Programs fund food stamps that are redeemed at local grocery stores, pay for services at local nursing homes and help citizens with medical and dental care and pharmacy expenses.
"It goes not only to citizens of the state, but also to the economy of local areas," said Anderson, who was appointed to head the department on Monday. She had been serving as interim director after her predecessor, Carol Olson, retired last August.