Rep. Todd Porter , Published August 24 2013
Letter: Outdoor measure is flawedRecently, Sen. Tyler Axness, D-Fargo, wrote a letter to the editor citing the wonderful legislation he and Sen. Ted Mathern, D-Fargo, proposed to address wildlife and environmental issues in North Dakota. What he failed to mention was that their failed legislation was so extreme that not even all Democrats voted for these bills.
Axness explained his support for the proposed constitutional amendment to take 5 percent of the oil extraction tax and dedicate it to conservation. He liberally used the new Democrat buzzwords intended to vilify the Republican Party – given to them by their ad agency for the next campaign.
Axness ignores the good work done during the last session to enhance our state’s outdoor heritage. During the last interim, a working committee made up of the stakeholders set out to develop the Heritage Fund legislation that was ultimately passed and funded at $15 million per year. These funds, with the potential match from conservation organizations, could generate in excess of $100 million per year for outdoors and wildlife conservation projects.
These same evil Republicans also passed a record $100 million combined budget for the North Dakota Game and Fish and North Dakota Parks in the next biennium.
Before signing on to a petition for another constitutionally mandated permanent fund, I encourage citizens to ask themselves three important questions:
- What happens when North Dakota’s economy slows down? This program would continue to be fully funded while schools and human services programs would go wanting.
- Do we want to commit almost $2 billion over the next decade to wildlife, wilderness and environmental groups when our state has real people needs like roads, schools and flood protection?
- Do we want to give unfettered spending authority on more than $150 million per biennium of taxpayer money with no elected oversight?
I won’t sign this petition. It spends too much with too little oversight.
Republicans used a balanced, responsible approach to create a meaningful Heritage Fund. Let’s put it to beneficial use.
Porter, R-Mandan, represents District 34 in the North Dakota House. He is chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.