This morning a group of conservative North Dakota lawmakers announced a pledge they signed to promote conservative policy reforms.
“Over the last decade, we Republicans have overseen an exponential growth in state spending, and we feel now is the time for our party to take the lead to ensure the direction of the state’s finance and tax policies are sustainable for the long term,” said state representative Rick Becker, a Republican from District 7 near Bismarck, in the release. “We have made good and significant strides in the area of reduced taxation, and we feel it is time to start making substantial reforms that will allow North Dakota’s economy to be primed for diversification. We simply cannot continue to fund the current pace of growth in state spending.”
Here’s the list of lawmakers signing the pledge, which includes 9 incumbents who are on the ballot this year and two candidates:
In the release, Becker says that the ideas the coalition are pushing aren’t exactly new – he says they’re part of the NDGOP’s party platform – but I’m not sure that helps their cause.
It seems many Republican lawmakers see their party’s platform as a joke. Furthermore, the lawmakers signing on to this platform of ideas represent, for the most part, conservative wing of the legislature. They are outnumbered by more left-leaning Republicans who are often joined by the Democrat minority to defeat these sorts of initiatives.
Still, it is nice to see the conservatives form a coalition. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, those who do not hang together typically hang separately.
Below is the platform this coalition is pushing, and most of it seems pretty vague. There are two fairly specific planks where the conservatives may have some success.
“Property tax increases should not be stealthy,” the document reads. “They should not be instituted without full public awareness, input, and consent.”
That lines up with proposals put out by Governor Jack Dalrymple’s property tax task force which seek to make the property tax more transparent, and more flexible.
Their other major proposal – to significantly reduce and/or eliminate income taxes – is going to be harder. Governor Dalrymple and a majority in the state Senate have been pretty hostile to aggressive income tax cutting in the past. I suspect they’ll be even more hostile toward the idea of eliminating the income tax.