If Democrats Want More Say Over North Dakota’s Budget They Should Try Winning Some Elections

North Dakota House minority leader Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks). TOM STROMME/Bismarck Tribune

Last week Governor Doug Burgum released budget guidelines which called for state agencies to prepare for more budget cuts in the coming legislative session (Burgum also spoke with me about his guidelines, audio here).

In response, North Dakota’s Democrats insulted the governor by implying he’s some sort of a political extremist and demanded the creation of budget commission.

If North Dakotans across the state wanted Democrats to have more say in budgeting they’d have voted for them.

“Today, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL is calling for a bipartisan commission to review to state’s budget priorities in response to Governor Doug Burgum’s radical vision aimed at slashing public services presented in his Strategic Budget Outline for the 2019-2021 cycle,” a press release from the state Democratic party stated late last week.

I liked the response to this demand from Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki: “North Dakota already has a bipartisan body that reviews the state’s priorities for the purposes of setting the budget — it’s called the Legislature,” he told the Bismarck Tribune‘s Amy Dalrymple.

We can understand why Democrats are frustrated. They hold just 9 seats out of 47 in the state Senate (19 percent), and just 13 of 94 in the state House (13 percent). They hold exactly zero statewide offices.

But the super minority status of our left wing friends, the thing which keeps them from having any really meaningful say in the state’s finances, is the will of the people. If North Dakotans across the state wanted Democrats to have more say in budgeting they’d have voted for them.

They didn’t, and I’m not sure Democrats whinging impotently about creating some commission to give themselves more say over budgeting than their presence in the state’s elected offices grants them is going to change the minds of many voters.

Don’t get me wrong. Republicans deserve plenty of blame for the state’s budget mess. As I wrote in my Sunday print column, Republicans simply spent too much money during the heady days of high oil and agriculture prices which pumped a tidal wave of revenues into the state’s coffers.

The problem is, during that era the Democrats wanted to spend even more. And today their fix for the budget seems to be raising taxes in a vain attempt to support unsupportable levels of spending.

If that’s their tack, I suspect the upcoming election will change very little in terms of how many Democrats hold office in our state.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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