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Published February 07 2013

Forum editorial: Got milk? Not for ND kids

Milk for children in school seems like a good idea. But in North Dakota, a federal program that funded snack-break milk for needy kids won’t be getting help from proudly wealthy North Dakota. House Bill 1421, sponsored by Rep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, was slapped down with a do-not-pass recommendation in committee on a straight party-line vote, 10-3. The bill also went down on a party-line vote in the House on Thursday. Republicans put ideology over the welfare and nutrition of families and children.

The feds initially funded the program, but no longer. It’s apparently one of those cuts in federal spending Republicans like – programs that really help people. Boschee’s bill would have appropriated $500,000 to serve about 6,000 children who receive milk with free and reduced-cost lunches, but sit without milk or juices during the snack break, while better-off kids get theirs. The money would have been made available to local school districts, and it is very likely most of them would have taken advantage of it.

Opposition to the bill was really offensive stuff. Rep. David Rust, R-Tioga, said the state is not funding the program because the feds used to. “If it’s something they want,” he said, “they should fund it.”

Does it get any weirder? Here’s a conservative lawmaker who lives comfortably in the anti-federal government camp, yet he would be OK if the deep-in-debt federal government funded a milk-for-kids program, rather than have billion-dollar-surplus North Dakota take care of its own. A contradiction? Hypocrisy?

The rejection in committee of Boschee’s bill was a mean-spirited affront to children and families who might not be as well off as most legislators are. It reveals monumentally skewed priorities. Lawmakers, who just a few days ago fast-tracked hundreds of millions of dollars for roads, won’t find a few thousand dollars to buy milk for children. Makes you proud, doesn’t it?


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Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.