This column was submitted from Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) and House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo).
Now that the primary is over, it appears the Democrats have begun their fall campaign. As we read the recent column by Minority Leaders Mac Schneider and Kenton Onstad, it almost appeared that they had attended a different 2015 session, but in reality they are just using their same old tired attacks to compensate for their lack of ideas and solutions.
Here is the truth.
Republicans did not cut the oil tax. We eliminated low price automatic tax cut triggers in exchange for a slightly lower overall rate. The net effect is an increase of $360 million dollars a year in oil tax revenue. Those increased revenues helped pay for schools, human services, water projects, property tax relief and so much more. Of course, the Democrats wanted even higher oil taxes despite hard times facing that industry.
Republicans made reducing and reforming property taxes a priority. In this biennium alone, we provided over $1.1 billion in property tax relief. We also passed the first major reform in a generation including consolidating mils and putting limits on some types of property taxes. And we made sure all North Dakota taxpayers shared in the savings by passing $123 million in income tax cuts.
When tax revenues were strong, Republicans wisely set money aside for a rainy day and made sure most of the spending increases were for necessary, one-time infrastructure projects. Of course, Democrats routinely criticized us for hoarding money in the state treasury instead of spending every dime. To see them try to portray themselves as the bastion of fiscal responsibility is comical to say the least.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Voters will have a clear choice this November. The Democrats will be championing higher taxes and more spending. Conversely, Republicans will be focused on diversifying our economy and smartly reducing government spending.[/mks_pullquote]
Voters will have a clear choice this November. The Democrats will be championing higher taxes and more spending. Conversely, Republicans will be focused on diversifying our economy and smartly reducing government spending.
Our focus on growing and diversifying the economy will be more aggressive than ever. The very best way to ensure our state remains strong is to work toward having the best business climate in the nation, to encourage investment and new business start-ups, and to attract and retain great people for great jobs.
With reduced tax revenue, we need to responsibly reduce spending and balance the budget. Republicans will focus on funding education, tax relief, public safety and critical infrastructure like flood protection. Then to balance the budget, we will eliminate most of the $2 billion in one-time spending we authorized last session and prioritize the other spending to provide for our state’s most vulnerable.
We will also focus on keeping North Dakota a safe place to live and raise a family. Our goal is to help those with illegal drug addiction and mental health issues turn their lives around while making sure we put the bad guys in jail. In doing so, we will reduce the cost of incarceration while also reducing overall criminal activity.
As the fall election approaches, you must remember that Democrats like Schneider and Onstad are also the party of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They endorse candidates who are on course to destroy our country as we know it with their war on fossil fuels, reckless immigration policies, the Waters of the US regulations and the not so Affordable Care Act.
Our next session will be challenging, but as always the Republican majority will prioritize our spending, balance the budget, and live within the limits of the dollars available. We will address the tough issues and look for solutions. History has taught us the Republican principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual rights, and the rule of law have been and will continue to be the back bone of a successful North Dakota.