Stacey J. Bendish, Mandan
Back in the 1990s the Republican Party started saying elect our candidates; as small business owners we know how to get the North Dakota economy moving. While the rest of the country flourished economically under a Democratic president, North Dakota stagnated. Their message won them a majority in the state legislature. Unfortunately, their leadership and business experience didn’t create enough revenue to fund the Republican governors 97 percent budgets. Refusing to raise taxes of any kind something even Reagan did in 1982 they looked elsewhere.
They used their power over local government to take away and divert revenue streams. One example is money from traffic violations. It was taken from the counties and used to balance the state budget. They claimed success and forced school districts, city and county governments to make the hard choices; raise property taxes and institute austerity measures and delay needed improvements to infrastructure.
By 2008, economic tides had turned due high commodity prices and oil going over $50 a barrel. Neither can honestly be attributed to Republican majority leadership. Local leaders began to cry for a need for more help with the problems of rapid growth. But in Bismarck, they sat on the money unknowing or unwilling to do things differently. In 2010 their accomplishment was gerrymandering the districts to get rid of those annoying Democrats (that they couldn’t beat at the ballot box) in the minority that kept calling for change. During the 2011 special session they still drug their feet. But through it all corporate tax breaks flowed freely in reality to many of them because as business owners they benefited from them.
Now the mayor of Watford City says that they and responsible for the deaths on the roads. What is the Republican majority response? Property taxes and roads are a local issue. How can they have it both ways? After 20 years in the majority the blood is on their hands. Voters remember!