Dave Owen, vote no on Measure 2
With everyone’s eyes diverted towards national issues, quite a — few local measures have snuck on the ballot that need to be understood. Furthermore, in general due to a lack of media coverage the average voter has little to no understanding of what these measures entail.
When you first hear about Measure 2, it appears to be a slam dunk, an example of common sense legislation, yet upon further scrutiny it fails quite a few tests.
First, the argument for Measure 2 has relied on the assumpion that education is under funded due to budget cuts, yet this betrays an issue of poor governance and a lack of priorities rather than an actual need.
As an example, I have been able to personally balance the 2016-18 fiscal budget and in direct conflict with Republican claims, I was able to undue the education cuts without taking a dollar out of the reserve fund or raising taxes.
Measure 2 is a classic example of government refusing to reign in wasteful spending instead of cutting a program that the public cares for to allow them to raid the piggy banks to continue their wasteful spending.
I would also point out that the purpose of our reserve fund is currently flawed. As it exists now, it is only to alleviate short-term dips in revenue. I, however, believe it could do so much more.
Everyone knows that the oil revenues will not last forever, and as a result we need to grow an alternative method of income when the wells run dry. As a result, the fund should instead focus on growing itself to self-sustainability, with the hopes of in the next 40 years providing sufficient returns to alleviate the lack of future oil revenues.
As it stands right now, the fund fails to invest its money in any way to reach reasonable returns, and now government seeks to raid the fund under the lie of it being needed to help our future North Dakotans instead of investing for the future.
In terms of investment there are products being offered with literally no risk, which have two to four percent annual returns. Furthermore, investments would be principle protected through products such as the Goldman Sachs Principle Protected note, which in exchange for large initial capital requirements comes with principle protection. While such investments are slow to mature — usually requiring 60 months — North Dakota is in a unique position to be able to afford these while still keeping 100s of millions in case of emergency.
It is my hope that we would be able to grow the fund to the point that we would be able to solely use the returns from the reserve fund to finance all government expenditure. Imagine a future with no taxation and guarenteed standards of living for each and every North Dakotan creating a true legacy fund for the future.
By allowing government to slowly pilfer away the reserves, we are dooming ourselves to a future crash while wasting our limited resources on fluff as opposed to planning for a brighter future.
Make no mistake if you give government the expanded power to use this money they will do so instead of actually making the right choice, reigning in the waste of other departments that has “forced” these education cuts and therefore the need for Measure 2.
Dave Owen is the opinion editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]