‘Ready to hit the road running’
All committees are set, all photos taken, all seats and parking assigned, all sworn in. We’re ready to hit the road running on Jan. 6, 2009.
Governor Hoeven presented the executive budget for the next biennium, and it includes $300 million in property tax relief. This gets us to a 70 percent state share of K-12 school funding. Local property taxes should be lowered.
The proposed budget raises state spending by 19 percent over the next two years. The flourishing economy of our state allows this without borrowing or bonding and will leave a good surplus. Sustainability, according to statistics, seems to be on course.
The budget will expand access to health insurance for children of lower income families. I have supported this every year and hope we can get this passed. As you know, every part of this budget has to be acted on by the legislators. There are many pieces, such as $18 million for major expansion of the state Heritage Center; and $17 million for a new grandstand at the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.
Also included in the budget is $100 million for state income tax relief. I would rather that go to the highway distribution fund, increase the counties’ and townships’ share, to help offset the higher maintenance costs.
I took a half hour off and went over to the state township officers’ annual meeting, and this was the focal point: money to maintain roads. I visited briefly with Ralph and Louise Olson, and Erling Karlsbraaten (officers from Benson County). State income taxes are not a priority, according to our citizens, as in the November election they turned down the measure to reduce them.
I visited with Jerry Jurena, administrator of the Heart of America Medical Center. He is working hard to see that the quality care we receive is maintained. The state has to give our rural medical centers more help, and I can speak for your District 7 legislators. We intend to do everything we can. I will serve on the Finance and Taxation Committee again, and on the Transportation Committee.
We can all be proud of our great state. I am thankful to the people of District 7 for allowing me to represent you and look forward to the coming session.
Schmidt represents District 7 in the N.D. House of Representatives.
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