Letter: Stenejhem Is No Conservative
The Republican Governor candidates debate was a mixed bag. Voters and party members were afforded the opportunity to listen and discuss the differences among the candidates. Our friends in the Democratic Party are still in the search phase with plenty of stable room.
Rick Becker, Doug Burgum and Wayne Stenehjem are running to be Republican gubernatorial candidates. Becker and Burgum have attended numerous District meetings and informal debates. Stenehjem has appeared in District meetings and one formal debate and refused to appear in others. He is of a mind that voters of North Dakota know him and do not need to hear his public positions. This implies an arrogance or confidence that is misplaced.
A Stenehjem spokesman, Representative Jon Nelson, indicated that prior to the campaign the candidates met and agreed there would only be one debate. Becker and Burgum do not recall a meeting or agreement.
One question to the three candidates during their debate was: Do you believe the state budget is too little, just right or too high. Becker and Burgum stated the state budget is too high and as Governor they would offer a much smaller budget and look at more than a simply across the board cut. Both said that the current budget was $2 BILLION over revenues. It was also necessary to make serious and significant adjustments to what the legislature and Governor had enacted the last few legislative sessions.
Stenehjem’s answer was troubling. He believed the current budget amount was just right and went on to say North Dakota’s government and spending were doing just fine.
The only way the next state budget can balance with Stenehjem’s standards is a significant increase in tax burden. That means you and me.
Stenehjem lead us to believe the increase in State spending over the last 10 years of 260+ percent is fine. The current budget will require a cut of over $1 Billion dollars AND another $1 BILLION, totaling $700 million in ending fund balance plus $300 million in rainy day funds.
If you want state taxes increased, Stenehjem is your candidate. If you want someone that will lead the charge to cut back bloated state government, Becker or Burgum is your champion.
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