In a childish display of partisan petulance, North Dakota Democrats staged a publicity stunt in the state house earlier this week bringing to the floor a bill (HB1421) to fund an extra carton of milk for underprivileged North Dakota school kids (they already get two) with a state appropriation. When Republicans voted the bill down, Democrats ran to the media implying that oil companies and corporations were being prioritized over children.
But a few Democrats were a little uncomfortable with the ploy. Case in point, Democrat Rep. Jerry Kelsh stood up toward the end of Wednesday’s floor session and apologized for the partisanship he and his party displayed:
Rep. Josh Boschee, who was actually a sponsor of the bill, admitted on Chris Berg’s television show that emails his party sent out leveraging the manufactured controversy for political donations was probably something less than tasteful:
It’s nice to see that even the Democrats feel they went a little too far, but to illustrate just how absurd this whole issue is, consider this: Since the 2003-05 biennium total state appropriations for K-12 education under Republicans has increased 103.5%, with Governor Jack Dalrymple’s executive budget recommending another $524.5 million increase for the coming biennium, according to Legislative Council (to be fair, part of the next biennium’s increase is the governor’s property tax buy-down, but it’s still resulting in more total funding for the schools):
We can debate about whether or not all this new funding is appropriate – it’s worth remembering that even as spending went up, statewide enrollment declined by 7.5% from the 2003 school year through 2009 – but Democrats quibbling over a small $1.2 million appropriation for milk in the context of a half-billion dollar increase for K-12 education overall is the very definition of petty.