The last week of the legislative session before crossover was a busy one. Both chambers of the legislature were in floor session for hours and hours as lots of important and controversial bills got their votes. So picking a Hall of Shame winner this week was tough.
There were a lot of legislators who deserved it for passing the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, a huge increase in that entitlement program the cost of will eventually fall on the backs of North Dakota taxpayers. The Republicans who voted for it justified their votes by saying that they amended the bill to put in a sunset provision, as if they’d ever be willing to unring that bell years hence when tens of thousands of new enrollees are on the program. They also argued that since we’re all paying our federal tax dollars anyway, they may as well vote for huge expansions to federal entitlement programs so that we get our money’s worth. Which is a bit like saying, “Hey, we’ve got this credit card, why not use it?”
There were also a lot of legislators who deserved the Hall of Shame for helping vote down Rep. Mark Dosch’s school choice bill. Study after study shows that when parents are empowered to make more education choices, including private schools we get better education outcomes. There is nothing – not early childhood education funds or more school milk funds – that could have a greater positive impact on our education system than school choice. But enough House Republicans chose to prioritize the teachers and school administrators over parents and kids that the bill went down to defeat.
And then there was Rep. Jessica Haak, who like an immature adolescent took to Twitter to pout about House Majority Leader Al Carlson being a “Nazi” right after getting called out for posting childish and untrue things about House Republicans to the social media platform, but she apologized (if a bit insincerely) for the posting and that’s that.
But I thought the most deserving member of the ND legislature for the Hall of Shame “honor” was Rep. Dave Monson who slipped into the Parks and Rec budget, and then defended under questioning from Rep. Jim Kasper, a $1.67 appropriation to buy North Dakota taxpayers a ski resort.
Here’s the video:
Expanding Medicaid and killing school choice is certainly bad policy, and Rep. Haak’s actions may make observers wonder if we don’t need to raise the age minimum for serving in the legislature, but Rep. Monson’s defense of this appropriation really takes the cake.
Apparently the idea is that the state would buy the ski slope, then Parks and Rec and other state officials could use the buildings there for office space. Rep. Monson claims that those officials are currently working out of their homes (readers from the area tell me that’s not true, the officials have office space in Walhalla they use), but even if there was a need for office space surely there’s a more practical way of going about getting it than purchasing an ski resort.
And how will the ski resort operate when the chateau, used by visitors to rent equipment, buy snacks and warm up – is used for offices?
There’s something more than a little fishy about the proposal to buy the property. North Dakota doesn’t need a state-owned ski slope to go along with its state-owned bank and state-owned grain mill. For that reason, Rep. Dave Monson is our Week 8 Hall of Shame winner.