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Candidates’ thoughts on special session

By Staff | Aug 12, 2016

Mark Nelson (Dist. 14 Rep.):

I was in Bismarck for the special session. It wasn’t that special.

The session was Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Democrats came in with a well crafted budget bill that would have addressed our woes. I asked a senator on the appropriations committee if Al Carlson (R-Fargo), House majority leader and the man who runs the legislature, was as organized. No, he said, it all got hammered out on Monday and then it was presented to the committee. Then the Senate passed it because they couldn’t change it. So you either passed it or there was no reason to be in Bismarck.

A republican amendment was defeated, as were three Dem-NPL amendments concerning social services and our most vulnerable citizens. Then it passed the House.

The measure took some money from here and there and kicked the can down the road to January. We’ll fix it in January, was the rallying cry. We did avoid another round of cuts. But we also could not find $29 million dollars to get $56 million in matching federal funds. Medicaid reimbursements were cut by one-third retroactive to July 1. If you have a hospital in District 14 you might be closing that hospital. Same for your nursing home. Nursing homes have been cut and cut and there is nothing left to cut unless administrators go part time. Can your hospital go to the bank for an operating loan? Will the banker loan money on the promise that we will fix it in January?

The people were really shut out of the special session. Their legislators could speak but were not allowed to change or improve anything. I asked one legislator about doing his job and the reply was that all that could be done was to stay awake and vote on Thursday. That’s how much your legislature can do for you.

North Dakota’s state government does not work for the citizens of our state. Al Carlson is not running in this election, so our best move would be to make him the House minority leader. We need to vote to fix Bismarck. And we need to save our towns.

Interesting side note. The Block 9 development in downtown Fargo will cost about $29 million in tax breaks and incentives. This won’t get built without government incentives right? So if you can afford one of the $1 million dollar condos in this building, you will get a $50,000 tax break. That makes all the difference in your decision, right? So it is a good use of tax money, right? Who is doing this development? The same guy who bought five more buildings in downtown Fargo the last few weeks. The Fargo multi-millionaire who wants to be governor.

What burns me is that this money did not get an across the board cut. Maybe that’s why the people of Fargo are calling it “block 1 percent”.

Doug Burgum (Gov.):

[Last Thursday] our state legislature took an important step that I am hopeful will ensure a balanced budget for the remainder of this biennium. When the legislature returns in January, additional challenges will need to be faced to ensure we fund our priorities while right sizing government. In the near term, the 2017-19 budget constraints will represent an opportunity to create innovative new solutions to old problems. Working together we can prioritize results and hold the line on how much we are spending.

Looking long-term, we must foster innovation and entrepreneurship to grow and diversify our economy, deliver transparency and accountability within government, and treat taxpayers like the customers they are.

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