Fresh on the heels of House Majority Leader Al Carlson and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner’s column in The Grand Forks Herald yesterday, equating the compassion of the NDGOP with money spent by the Legislative Assembly they control, comes a report issued by the Governor’s Office and Legislative leadership equating the success of the 63rd Session with record amounts of state spending. The NDGOP was more than happy to pick up on this tone in their weekly GOP Update Friday afternoon.
Party Chairman Stan “Kill the Mike” Stein, in reference to this report, stated “Voters should be proud of the work that has been done on their behalf.” But, based on how leadership in the Governor’s Office, the Legislature, and the NDGOP seem to want to frame what success is these days, he could have just as easily said “Voters should be proud we can spend like Democrats”. Indeed, if you peruse this report (see below), it’s all about the spending. Some highlights:
“The Legislature appropriated about $2.3 billion to rebuild and repair state highways, county and township roads, bypass routes and other infrastructure upgrades in every region of the state…”
“The Legislature has appropriated about $2.5 billion, unprecedented funding to continue addressing the needs that come with rapid growth in North Dakota’s oil-producing region…”
“The Legislature appropriated $515 million from the Resources Trust Fund for permanent flood control projects and water supply projects…”
“$5 million to develop a UAS Airspace Integration Test Site in North Dakota…”
“the Legislature appropriated $902.3 million to fund the state’s colleges and universities…”
You can read the report for yourself, but what stands out is there is hardly a sentence in it without a dollar sign and either the words “million” or “billion” included. I’m not saying some (but definitely far from all) of the spending it highlights isn’t needed, but the document is downright overwhelming to read because it’s all about the spending.
What is equally astonishing is what is not discussed in the report which the NDGOP deserves to pat themselves on the back about. Things like making North Dakota a leader in the protection of life at all stages of development through the passage of several Right to Life bills. Or, giving the electorate an opportunity to decide if it’s time to change the governance structure of our higher education system. Protecting the Gun Rights of citizens during emergencies and allowing churches to decide for themselves if allowing concealed carry on their premises is right for them. Opening the door to a change to Defined Contribution retirement plans for public employees by allowing new ones to opt in to such a system. And of course, getting a handle on NDSU’s extravagant usage of their airplane by forcing it’s sale (granted, four years from now).
But apparently none of this matters. When you have a House and Senate full of liberals masquerading as Republicans so they can get elected and then governing like Democrats, it was only a matter of time before the NDGOP’s definition of a successful Legislative Session was measured in how much money could be spent in 80 days.