Monte Reiner, Minot
Individual citizens, most who have not benefited from the oil boom, should be on top of the list to receive energy impact assistance. This boom has busted many families in the region who built these cities with years of sweat and blood. They have been thrown out on the street to find another place to live that they can afford.
It is time for the Republican-dominated state government to remember this is a nation of the people. It is not a nation of the oil industry, by the businesses, and for the cronies. The real priorities were fully missed in this last session of our Legislature, one which is considered the worst trainwrecks in our state's history. This was at at time when a real vision and direction could have been set, but ran off the tracks time and again with failed last minute attempts to correct misguided legislation. Teddy Roosevelt is turning in his grave.
Forgive me if I missed some of what our Minot legislators accomplished for us, but the flood victims came home empty-handed again from the state except funding for apartment owners to help rebuild. This is a group of folks who can charge what they want for rent and did not need assistance, but had the influence to further fill their pockets. I noticed their one photo op with the governor to try to document they actually did something. This group you elected has no clout in Bismarck.
Some grants coming from the Feds are assisting low income folks, but those in the middle who have had to take out loans and spend their savings to exist have been forgotten. Money for the arts, money for parking ramps for investors, money for a struggling university's stadium, money for the State Fair. Take a clear look at who has the influence and the legitimate projects that could have benefit impacted people that have been pushed under the pile.
It is time for all of us to stand up to this misappropriation of our funds. All of these slush funds with billions of dollars in them cannot be entrusted to the Republicans to manage. It is time to demand these funds go back to the citizens. Citizens does not mean oil companies, it does not mean to subsidize businesses that are thriving, it does not mean to conservation interests, it does not mean to airports. Citizens have Social Security numbers and pay individual income tax.
As the oil companies whine about oil extraction taxes being too high, remind them of the infrastructure they have destroyed that we are paying for. Also remind them of the negligence and intentional environmental damage we will be left to clean up when they are gone. City leaders from the Bakken are crying for more funding from the state to finance progress. I suggest they find ways to pay for this progress from those benefiting from the progress. North Dakota Oil Can needs to portray the industry as it is, not the clean and pristine images in their ads. They missed the spills, the dust, the dumping, the deaths, the crime, and the unending truck traffic. I strongly support energy development, but don't try to cover up the pain it causes and don't ask for us to subsidize this industry.
Dear residents of North Dakota: It is time to speak up and stop the subsidizing of those entities that do not deserve the tax dollars we pay. Challenge your elected officials to wake up and understand who has been impacted by energy development and that these are the folks who deserve impact grants. Let's drop the North Dakota state income tax to help impacted residents pay the inflated rents, inflated cost of living, and inflated property taxes coming their way.
Let them know that their current process of paying for development by going to our Bismarck slush funds is not right. Let them know developers need to pay for the infrastructure not taxpayers. Let them know that oil companies need to pay for the roads they destroy, not taxpayers. Let them know that the benefactors of this progress need to pay a larger share of the costs of this progress. Fixed income North Dakotans can't afford higher taxes to pay for the results of this progress. Smart North Dakotans don't want to subsidize something they don't benefit from while their quality of life is stripped from them.
Take your legislator to the wood shed and help them understand whose cash it is in the treasury. Let them know that you the citizen of North Dakota deserve your piece of the pie to offset the added costs you are paying to make a go of it in North Dakota. Make them understand that you would like to decide how your tax dollars are spent and that you have lost trust in their ability to do what is right. I call that progress!