Tooting My Own Horn

December 26, 2006

Mentioned in the Grand Forks Herald

and the Fargo Forum

Second-guessing, Part 2A second conservative group has weighed in on Gov. John Hoeven’s budget, calling it “an unacceptable proposal” and calling for return of the state’s half-billion-dollar budget surplus to taxpayers.

Dustin Gawrylow, executive director of North Dakotans for Change, criticized the governor for recommending the state spend “$382 million more than the agencies themselves” requested, for recommending a $300,000 increase in his own budget, and for cutting the requests from five college campuses “while tuition rates continue to increase.”

He also calls for elimination of the state income tax on incomes up to $30,650.

His organization’s Web site, http://www.nodakchange.com, contains a link, “Learn more about the people behind North Dakotans for Change,” which doesn’t link to anything. The site does score 2005 legislators, awarding points for “pro-youth” and “pro-growth” votes.

Earlier this month, North Dakotans, including former Gov. Ed Schafer, who are affiliated with Americans for Prosperity, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates lower taxes and restrictions on government spending, called for using the state’s surplus to “make government more efficient and less costly.”

Not sure why she says that the link doesn’t go anywhere, cause it does, but oh well.

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N.D. Republican Legislator Proposes Free Tuition

December 22, 2006

North Dakota Legislative Watch

Spend your childhood in North Dakota, study hard, and North Dakota promises to pay your college tuition.

That’s the pitch from state Sen. Tony Grindberg, R-Fargo, who will ask the Legislature to enact his plan called the North Dakota Promise. For a first-year cost of $10 million to $12 million, he said, the program will cause measurable population growth by keeping young families in the state, attracting more and creating a highly educated workforce.

Because tuition recipients have to have four years of science and four years of math in high school and no less than a 2.5 grade average, it will boost North Dakota’s “knowledge base” and give our economy the kind of workers in demand in a high-tech information age.

The more years someone spends in North Dakota’s schools during grade school and high school years, the more tuition would be paid, up to 100 percent.

“I think this will resonate with families,” Grindberg said Wednesday in releasing his plan. He wanted to roll it out for public discussion around the holidays in hopes that it will create discussion among family gatherings. He has been working on it for three months.

The first year will be funded out of the state’s surplus, estimated at more than $530 million by next July 1. The “investment,” as Grindberg calls it, would increase after the first year, he acknowledges, but can eventually be paid for from the Bank of North Dakota’s Student Loan Trust Fund and future higher tax collections resulting from economic growth.

Grindberg’s model is the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Promise that’s credited with growing enrollment in Kalamazoo schools by 1,000, or 9 percent, in just one year. It was launched in November 2005. The Wall Street Journal’s realestatejournal.com reported it has sparked a home-building boom in the “downtrodden industrial city.”

“I’ve been watching this in Michigan for quite a while,” Grindberg said.

Anything to make the debtload of North Dakota college students lower is good.


Fargo Forum Applauds Global Warming

December 20, 2006

Warm December Weather is Better

If the weather holds – and it looks like it just might – Christmas 2006 will be without snow and warmer than usual. The last time Christmas in the Fargo-Moorhead area was not white was 1957, according to the weather experts.

No snow and temperatures some 20 degrees above average are welcome for most people. Heating bills are lower. Driving is less hazardous. Christmas shopping does not require a frigid dash from the parking lot to the store. Pets are happier. Deer can get to feed without ripping into farmers’ haystacks. Winter birds sing in the unseasonably warm sunshine.

Ah, but what about snowmobilers, skiers, skaters and sellers of snow shovels, insulated boots and snowblowers? Not happy, we suspect. But c’mon, lighten up. Most holiday seasons are a guarantee of knee-deep snow, face-freezing wind chills and treacherous travel. We’ll take that one in 50 when Mother Nature gives us a break.

North Dakotans have always been in favor of global warming.


The Governor Can’t Fool Us

December 19, 2006

Fargo Forum – No need to ‘invest’ surplus

Stand up against Hoeven’s spending

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.


An Unacceptable Proposal: A Brief Analysis of Governor Hoeven’s Budget Proposal

December 17, 2006
An Unacceptable Proposal:
A Brief Analysis of Governor Hoeven’s Budget Proposal

A quick glance at Governor Hoeven’s budget proposal for the 2007-2009 biennium raises a few questions:

  • 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%?

If the governor’s philosophy of the budget surplus is “spend it while we got it,” this proposal should simply be disregarded and the legislature should build a sensible budget from scratch with a reasonable increase. A 24% increase is by no stretch of the imagination “reasonable.”

Once state spending has been brought under control, the legislature must act to return the surplus to the taxpayers of the state; and not in the form of the governor’s proposed property tax relief to the counties, but to the people themselves. Based on the governor’s projections, revenues from individual taxpayers are up 53% ($211 million) since 2001-2003; and corporate income tax revenues are up 46% ($76 million) since 2001-2003.

The currently projected surplus of approx. $580 million affords us the ability to do some things that will improve the overall economic health of the citizens of North Dakota far more than a 24% increase in government spending will.

One such improvement would be a complete elimination of the 2.1% individual and joint tax bracket for income up to $30,650; as well as elimination of the corporate income tax which accounts for only 4% of the state’s tax revenue. This broad tax reduction would both stimulate new businesses in the state and give the average family in North Dakota a much needed break. While eliminating the corporate tax itself would be a difficult task politically, eliminating the state income taxes of basicly everyone under the median level would provide a politically positive result. With the elimination of the corporate taxes, new businesses will surely be attracted to headquarter within the state – creating high paying, white collar jobs that would likely increase tax revenues even further.

In summary, 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.

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 poor 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.

(Breakdown of the Governor’s Proposal – PDF)


And he wanted to be a Congressman?

December 17, 2006

Cover up that dead deer?

Big-game animals such as deer no longer could be on display when being transported on most North Dakota roads under legislation proposed by a state representative.

The legislation from Rep. Duane DeKrey, a Republican from Pettibone, would require successful big-game hunters to cover up their harvested animals when they drive on an Interstate or state highway when returning from their hunt.

Traveling during the recent gun deer season and seeing so many dead and field-dressed deer visible in pickup beds, on trailers or tied to vehicles prompted DeKrey to introduce the legislation.

He cited one example of seeing the heads of deer dripping blood as they hung over the side of a vehicle.

“I couldn’t help but wonder what the general public thinks about that,” said DeKrey, who is a deer hunter.

Longtime deer hunter Brandon Mason can see both sides of the issue.

“You hear nonhunters and anti-hunters talking, and that’s repulsive to them. I can personally understand how they could be offended by that. It doesn’t help the cause of sportsmen much, but it’s a natural part of the hunt.

“As a sportsman, it’s kind of neat to see what everyone got.”

DeKrey doubts the proposal will go far, however.

“We will talk about in committee and decide how it should be handled,” he explained. “It’s for discussion only.”

What a waste of the legislature’s time.


North Dakota Business Tax Climate Downgraded to 33rd

December 16, 2006

As reported here the Tax Climate for Businesses in North Dakota, well, it isn’t good.

Well, it seems that while we were all busy with campaigning (well, I was) The Tax Foundation updated its rankings and North Dakota dropped two more slots to 33rd.

This just illistrates again why we must abolish the corporate income tax in North Dakota, with the massive surplus, the state just does not need to sit on that money while businesses go elsewhere.