Stan Stein, Wahpeton, N.D., Published May 18 2013
Letter: Good results from 80 days of legislative sausage-makingAs the dust settles following the 2013 legislative session, voters from both sides of the aisle should be proud of the work that their elected Republican majorities have done on their behalf.
It may have taken the full 80 days allotted by the constitution, but we have got a lot going on here in North Dakota. In addition, we are served by a collection of independent-minded leaders from all walks of life, and we have an open process that fully allows each and every voice to be heard and every bill to get a vote.
With all that being said, consider this body of work:
- $2.3 billion in transportation infrastructure spending, with the North Dakota Department of Transportation already preparing for its most ambitious construction year ever.
- $1.1 billion of additional funding specifically for oil-impacted counties to help address oil-related infrastructure, public safety, housing and other needs.
- $850 million of property tax relief, including $656 million of increased education funding.
- $250 million of income tax cuts.
- Historic levels of human services spending to expand protection for the most vulnerable of state residents.
- Flood control and expanded rebuilding loan programs, water supply investments, increased DUI penalties, flaring-reduction legislation, and billions of dollars in reserve to prepare for the worst.
Not bad for 80 days of sausage-making.
Of course, the critics are already out in force. For some, it was too much spending. But remember that North Dakota’s economy has doubled in 10 years. With nation-leading growth and opportunity come challenges, and our Republican leaders made historic strides in responsibly addressing those needs, while still providing various forms of tax relief and maintaining and expanding reserves for the future.
For others, tax relief did not come in their form of choice, or it didn’t go far enough. Note again the big picture. Most states are pinching pennies just to stay above water, and tax relief of any kind is a fairy tale. We need to look no farther than one state to the east for a case study in that alternative reality where Democrat majorities rule, tax increases and over-regulation stifle job creation, and newly proposed income tax brackets are among the highest in the nation.
No bill or law or process is ever perfect, and as North Dakota continues to grow and prosper, more challenges will undoubtedly emerge, and more reforms will be needed. But thanks to strong Republican leadership in the governor’s office and the Legislature during the 2013 session, North Dakota is making historic strides in addressing the state’s immediate needs while building a solid foundation for the future.
Stein is chairman, North Dakota Republican Party.