The big question of this legislative session will be how to deal with the surplus which is well over $500 million currently. Governor Hoeven’s answer of increasing general fund spending by 24% is wholly unacceptable. The Governor has clearly stated with his budget proposal that his fiscal philosophy it to “spend it while we got it.”
I urge everyone to take a look at the governor’s budget proposal and ask yourself the following five questions are you look at the numbers.
- Why is the governor recommending a total of $382 million more than the agencies themselves are requesting?
- Why is Bismarck State College, Williston State College, Minot State University – Bottineau, UND and NDSU requesting less than they received in 2005-2007 while tuitions rates continue to increase?
- Why is the governor recommending that his own office receive $300,000 more than it requested?
- Why does the governor think the Executive Branch overall needs 25% more than it asked for?
- Is there really a need to increase General Fund spending by 24%?
The Republicans in the state legislature must show the restraint that Governor Hoeven seemly does not think is necessary. Our elected officials must not be allowed to hide behind the massive amounts of tax dollars that are left over as a copout to why they should be allowed to increase spending as much as they want in an attempt to score political points.
Just because the surplus is there, does not mean it should be spent; just because it is not spent, does not mean it should just sit there. Those tax dollars are an overpayment by the taxpayers of this state. They must be used responsibly, and if there is excess tax dollars left over, those dollars must be returned to the people.
Governor Hoeven may try to portray his plan for the surplus as responsible “investments” in our state’s future, but lawmakers should not be fooled by his misleading rhetoric which erodes the objective truth behind his proposals. The Governor’s convoluted tax rebate scheme and plot to increase spending merely guarantees a future in which North Dakota government grows bigger on the backs of the taxpayers.
The state legislature should not be in the business of giving government agencies more money that they presently have a need for based on their own requests. Their requests should be investigated with due diligence, but no agency or sector of the government should be given money and then allow to “figure out how to spend it.” That is a very irresponsible and dangerous road to start down, and a very quick way to burn through money that is not the governments’ money, but rather the people’s money.