Hennen Column: North Dakota Is Blessed This Christmas

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Every Christmas season is a reason to celebrate the most important birth in the history of civilization. However, 2012 might just be the best year we have seen in North Dakota since before Christ!

The North Dakota miracle lays in momentous prosperity driven by a trio of areas: the energy, agriculture and health care sectors.

Energy: This was the year when we surpassed Alaska and California and became the second biggest oil producer in the United States. Despite record production, the momentous work on transportation infrastructure and housing options helped ease the challenging impacts somewhat. Meanwhile, the economic impacts are welcomed by all and continue to fuel enormous growth in every corner of North Dakota. “North Dakota Oil Can” is much more than a slogan; it’s keeping the American dream alive and well. Meanwhile North Dakota’s abundant coal resources continue to provide affordable energy even while weathering an onslaught of regulatory road blocks. Lastly the renewable energy champions remain a resilient force in our state, despite ever-shrinking subsidies which are a product of a federal budget gone bust.

Agriculture: If I had a buck for every time a North Dakota farmer told me “this was the best year ever” I’d be a wealthy man. Given the history of farming success in North Dakota, that is an extraordinary statement. And it was true for thousands of growers across nearly every commodity. The state enjoyed ridiculous favor, even skirting the drought conditions that crept in all around us. The “trickle-down” economic impacts of agriculture are almost taken for granted after so many successful growing seasons, but this year there seems to be new iron in about every quonset across the state. Have you noticed the size of the average machinery “shed” these days? You could put a Sioux, Bison and Marauder football field combined in many of them. And we must lead the world in new pick-up sales too. It’s a beautiful thing!

Health Care: It’s impossible to miss the explosive growth of our health care industry in North Dakota. Sanford Health is obviously the 800 pound gorilla, fueled by the visionary leadership of native North Dakotan Kelby Krabbenhoft and the pocketbook of T. Denny Sanford. It’s a powerful duo that has led to more blue neon piping lining roof-tops here than anywhere in America! In addition to the start of the 1 million plus square foot project in Fargo, they are new to Bismarck and Dickinson. However, competition is alive and well in North Dakota healthcare. The Altru Health and St. Alexis Medical Center partnerships with the Mayo Health Network bring the gold-standard health-care brand to Grand Forks and Bismarck. Essentia is a growing force as well and provides a sizable competitor to Sanford, given their Minnesota, Wisconsin and Idaho resources. The bottom line is better health care can save a life, extend a life lives and improve the quality of life for the citizens of North Dakota. Per capita, I bet we have the finest health care on earth.

While this North Dakota miracle unfolds in breathtaking fashion, the rest of America is on life-support economically and culturally. We live on this island of prosperity. When it’s time to lead Christmas grace (before those holiday meals) please include a prayer of thanks for the favor we enjoy.

It’s HIS gift to us.

Merry Christmas!

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Clint F

    Wow, that’s an OLD photo of the capitol! If you look along the top of the tower you can see that it’s lit by lights overhanging the top instead of the current lights at the bottom. That takes it back decades. I have a postcard like that from the 1960s. Merry Christmas!

  • kevindf

    If ND is doing so well, why is anyone paying more in state income taxes than they do in federal income taxes?

    • kent

      Again, I ask how you do this? The only two ways I think of to do this are functions of federal law not ND. One you buy tax free munis at the federal level. That tells me you have saved money, don’t pay taxes on your federal interest income, but is taxed to ND. That tells me you have some wealth. Congrats. On the flip side you take advantage of federal tax credits that don’t exist in ND, in that case you are one of the 47%. So your story or whine of ND taxes is higher than Federal taxes is getting old. So I am wondering the answer.

      • kevindf

        In 2007 I paid zero in state income taxes. The legislature caused it with their scheme to mask the obscene property taxes by entwining them with income taxes.
        Cory Fong called me about it last March and sheepishly admitted it. No one should pay more in state income taxes than they do in federal income taxes.
        Jim Kasper and Kathy Hawken just play dumb.

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