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10-8 Letters to the Tribune

By Staff | Oct 7, 2016

Stop the raid on K-12’s education savings account

Measure 2 will raid the K-12 education savings account (Foundation Aid Stabilization Fund), a constitutional fund established by the citizens of North Dakota in 1994 to be used exclusively for K-12 education. Its purpose is to offset any reductions to K-12 education when the state experiences a revenue shortfall. Only the Governor was given the authority to transfer money from this fund to the state’s general fund. Now, legislators want access to raid this savings account.

Measure 2 will do the following: Reduce the K-12 savings account to all but 15 percent of the money it takes to finance K-12 education, allow the Governor to access the remaining 15 percent, and allow the Legislative Assembly to spend dollars in the savings account for any “education-related purpose.” That could include anything related to higher education and/or any creative or imaginative idea the Legislative Assembly could possibly tie to education-even a road through a community that just happens to end up at the school parking lot.

Due to North Dakota’s revenue shortfall this year, the Governor twice made across-the-board budget cuts to state agencies. School districts did not suffer a cut because over $116 million was transferred from this savings account to the state general fund. The fund is working exactly as the people had intended, i.e., as a safety net for K-12 education during a state budget cut.

In addition to providing the Legislative Assembly access to this savings account, there are two other major flaws in Measure 2. First, the Legislative Assembly can spend the fund down to 15 percent of the money necessary to finance K-12 education. As a result, this measure will transform a savings account used as a safety net for tough times to a permanent source of funding. It’s a short-sighted measure with the sole purpose of allowing legislators an opportunity to raid this fund to help them balance the 2017-19 biennial budget and future budgets as well.

A second flaw of the measure is that it allows the Legislative Assembly to spend dollars for any “education-related purpose.” This vague, undefined term would become part of the state’s Constitution.

Supporters of the measure say they merely want to “loosen up” money in the savings account, but providing access to over half the savings account ($300 million) is actually raiding the account. Supporters also use a scare tactic by claiming if Measure 2 fails, taxes will increase. That “red herring” is used to mislead the public because this measure has nothing to do with taxes.

Supporters of the measure believe if the measure passes, there will be enough money remaining in the savings account to handle future budget shortfalls. First, how do they know? And second, legislators plan for the next two years. School boards think 5, 10, and 20 years out. Once K-12’s savings account is gone, except for the remaining 15 percent, it’s gone for good; and this ballot measure provides the means, motive, and opportunity for that to happen.

Vote NO on Measure 2.

Jon Martinson, executive director, ND School Boards Association

Vote Tufte for Supreme Court

Normally, there isn’t much attention given to the Judge races each election. That’s probably because judges legally can’t answer policy questions so they stay neutral. This year, there is an important position open on the ND Supreme Court, the first contested Supreme Court race since 2000. The winner of this election will serve on the Court for 10 years. There is a clear difference, so you need to pay attention this year.

One of the candidates rises to the top for me and hopefully will for everyone else too. Jerod Tufte is the most well-rounded and level-headed candidate of the two.

Tufte has a degree in computer engineering and a law degree. He has worked in the private sector as a lawyer, was a prosecuter, was legal counsel for the Governor, has served in the National Guard and is currently a District Judge.

Tufte also scored the highest rating by his peers in a survey of lawyers on his judicial temperament with a 4.05 out of 5. His opponent scored 2.5 out of 5.

If you ever have a chance to meet Jerod Tufte, you will find a kind, respectful, easily approachable person who is willing to work with others and has the commitment to the rule of law and appropriate respect for limited role of the courts under our constitution. Tufte has the common sense I want on the ND Supreme Court.

Tufte’s opponent has sued his own family and threatens people when questioned in public meetings. His opponent does not have the temperament and ethics I want on the ND Supreme Court.

Please join me in voting for Jerod Tufte for ND Supreme Court in November.

Erika Kenner

Leeds, ND

I love you too, Rissa!

A letter to Carissa Mavec (Reporter for the Tribune) from her father, Frank Mavec.

Thank you for the beautiful article you wrote in the Tribune about my recent visit to Rugby. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the five days with you. Thank you for putting up with my jokes and reminding me when I told too many. I tried not to embarrass you, but I sometimes get carried away. Nevertheless, we had an awesome time together going to the movies, playing UNO, watching the festival, shopping, dining out, and watching Family Feud for four hours. I enjoyed getting to see your new home. You had everything except groceries and drink coasters, which I provided for you getting coasters of your favorite football team! I even fixed your windows. I hope to make many more visits to Rugby, as the people were extremely friendly and made me feel welcome. Special thanks to Micah (Carissa’s neighbor), who let me stay in an extra room of his!

The picture is of Carissa and I working on a science project in grade school. We made a levitating train. It floated about the tracks using magnets, so it was a Magnet School. Sorry, Rissa I had to train myself to only tell one joke! Love, Daddy.

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