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GOP Debate Held at RHS

By Staff | Mar 11, 2016

(Ashley Burkhartsmeier/PCT) Dr. Rick Becker, left and Doug Burgum discuss issues at the Rugby Gubernatorial Debate hosted by District 14 Republicans. Becker laughed at a remark made regarding the absence of Stenehjem at the debate.

While a vacant seat marked with a “Stenehjem for Governor” sign glared, Dr. Rick Becker and Doug Burgum were present at the gubernatorial debate at Rugby High School.

The two underdog candidates frequently agreed on many of the same issues. Both Burgum and Becker claim that state government has gotten too large. Both believe education funding should be restructured. Both believe in opening up the option of charter schools. Both believe too much money is leaving the state. Both believe in overreach on the part of the federal government. Becker even clapped when Burger said “I don’t have a lot of faith in the federal government when it comes to background checks” for refugees.

One of the rare points of difference between the two present candidates was on the topic of public-private partnerships. Bergum favored teamwork between the public sector and the private sector. “I would if it produces a larger return to the taxpayers,” says Bergum. Becker claimed he did not favor private/public partnerships due to their inability to full audits while admitting that “I’m all in favor of putting things out to bid.”

The two differed on out-of-state students, where Burgum favored bringing in students to fill classrooms. Becker’s retort being “I’m not concerned with being the K-Mart of higher education” for out-of-state students, due to the state’s affordability.

When asked about the state’s budget shortfall, Burgum claimed “we’re spending more than we’re making,” without pointing out how he would fix it.

Becker said he would have made state agencies cut 5 percent and plan for another 2. He continued to point out that the state depleted its “Rainy Day Fund” due to lack of foresight.

Currently, the state’s Democrats have not announced a candidate for governor. This year’s NDGOP State Convention will be held April 1-3 at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

Phil Torres is a staff reporter for the Minot Daily News.

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