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North Dakotans Deserve More from our Tax Commissioner

Letters to the Editor | April 25th, 2018

To the editor:

I was completely dismayed to see Governor Burgum’s proposed budget guidelines for the 2019-2021 biennium. In short, he is asking each department to cut 5-10 percent of their budget, in addition to setting aside an additional three percent of the budget “just in case.” Further, most agencies were asked to cut employees by five percent. 

After hearing plenty of concern from friends and colleagues, I thought I’d see if the Tax Commissioner had any reaction to this proposal. Our Tax Commissioner is, after all, elected by the people of North Dakota, not appointed by the Governor. When the Governor or any other elected official proposes something, particularly related to the budget, that stands to negatively impact people in the state, we should expect our Tax Commissioner to speak up. Alas, no comment from our Tax Commissioner. 

In his speech, the Governor used terms like “inspire”, “empower”, and his favorites, “innovate” and “reinvent.” Let’s be clear: there is nothing innovative or empowering about laying off public employees and slashing higher education funding. Morale is already low across agencies and on campuses. Our public employees, and even more, the people of North Dakota, need leadership that offers a real vision backed by thoughtful, strategic plans. 

In the middle of all of this, I hope that North Dakotans remember that it didn’t have to be this way. Republicans have been needlessly cutting the state’s revenue sources for the past decade. With a budget based on commodities, this is irresponsible and reckless. During my time in the legislature, I advocated for common-sense measures, like a revenue volatility study, that could have helped to prevent these devastating budget cuts. 

The foundation of good governance is fair and responsible fiscal policy. On all accounts, Republican leaders have failed to set North Dakota on a path for lasting prosperity. And, our Tax Commissioner is complicit in this failure. 

North Dakotans deserve a Tax Commissioner who is advocating to protect education, human services, and infrastructure funding. A Tax Commissioner who understands the needs of working families and the important role that our state can play in meeting those needs. A Tax Commissioner who will stand up when the Governor and legislature are failing to do their jobs to serve all North Dakotans. 

Since announcing my run for Tax Commissioner, I’ve heard the concerns of people across the state who are seeing their property taxes rise and who aren’t seeing the benefits of the Republican tax plan. State leadership has broken promises to the people of this state, and it is hurting their bottom line. 

As Tax Commissioner, I pledge to always put North Dakotans first and to advocate for working families, farmers and ranchers, and students. I pledge to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. And, I pledge to push to create better and more responsible tax policy that will set our state, and all North Dakotans, up for long term economic stability. 

North Dakotans deserve nothing less. 

- Kylie Oversen, Dem-NPL Candidate for Tax Commissioner 

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