ND Legislature Hall Of Shame Week 4: Rep. Al Carlson


This week’s Hall of Shame honoree is Rep. Al Carlson. Carlson is the sponsor of HCR3018 which would amend the state constitution to create a tuition entitlement for North Dakota students funded by the state’s Legacy Fund (which is, in turn, funded by a portion of the state’s oil extraction tax revenues).

Honorable mentions for the Hall of Shame go to the resolution’s co-sponsors Rep. Bill Devlin, Rep. Mike Nathe, Rep. Mike Schatz and Rep. Don Vigessa.

Here’s the pertinent text of the amendment:

Beginning July 1, 2018, on July first of each year, the state treasurer shall transfer ten million dollars of the earnings of the North Dakota legacy fund to a special fund in the state treasury known as the legacy scholarship fund. Money deposited in the legacy scholarship fund and the earnings of that fund may be expended only by legislative appropriation for legacy scholarships. Legacy scholarships may be awarded as provided by law but only to recipients of a North Dakota school district high school diploma who meet academic performance and other minimum standards established by law. Legacy scholarships may be awarded only for attendance at North Dakota state institutions of higher education.

One of the problems with higher education, both in North Dakota and nationally, is the run-away cost of it both to taxpayers and to students. Since 1978, college tuition has grown faster than any other expense in our economy. Faster than even health care:

college (1)

Normally price signals in the market place might have reined in some of this growth in cost. As college became more expensive fewer students would go, or students would find lower-cost alternatives, and the market would find some equilibrium. But thanks to government-backed student loans, and government grants, there has been plenty of easy money available to pay for tuition. That has created a bubble in the marketplace (not to mention a serious problem with student loan debt).

The bubble in the cost of higher education, and student loan debt, is as real in North Dakota as any other part of the country. Creating a $10 million/year fund for college tuition for North Dakota’s roughly 7,000 or so annual graduates wouldn’t only exacerbate that problem. To put it another way, we’d be pumping more air into the bubble. Far from helping students with increasingly expensive tuition, we’d be hurting them in the long run.

Tor that reason Carlson and his co-sponsors are this week’s Hall of Shame inductees.

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.

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  • RCND

    If this keeps up the weekly award could very well be named after the Majority Leader, like the Oscar, Tony, Cleo etc.

    • Guest Observer

      Call it the “Carly” ND’s Hall of Shame Award

      • RCND

        That has a great ring to it.

  • camsaure

    Yeah, right, give them more of our money so they can raise tuition even higher and then come back crying for even more in the future. More of the same BS.

  • Jean

    I don’t remember in years past where the young people were given tuition money. You see these kids driving expensive cars, dressing like they purchased from Neiman Marcus, and spending money like it grows on trees. Maybe if they saved some of that money for tuition they wouldn’t have to ask for help. I know my brothers worked while in college and lived on little or nothing. I didn’t go to college. My kids worked and took out student loans. Why don’t the Bank of ND lower the interest rates on school loans and let the kids earn their own way. They will appreciate it more when they graduate. I think they should not get their tuition paid for by taxpayers that can’t send their kids to college and get that help. An entitlement?? No way!!

  • sbark

    ……and we are supposed to trust this guy in stopping Gov D’rymple clandestine effort to establish ObamaCare exchanges in N.Dak?

    No matter what the party, what the level of Govt———-if money is sitting there, or they have access to it…………they feel they have to spend it……its what govt does

    “Helping your fellow man in need by reaching into your own pocket is praiseworthy and noble. Helping your fellow man in need by reaching into someone else’s pocket is worthy of condemnation.”—-Walter Williams

  • Sue

    I am forced to pay into that damn extraction tax. This is the “rain” they are projecting?? FOUL!! My meager $700/mo is forced to pay this idot 11.5% and then they still want more tax when I file taxes at the end of the year. There are a ton of us who get minor amts. Not all of us are wealthy. The wealthy one is the State. They get a chunk from everyone in a spacing unit.

    I paid my own way. I don’t owe someone else’s kid a free ride. Grade 1 – 12, my property tax and other taxes I pay. I pay even though I am done raising my children.

    Now they are expecting me to assist in further an education for my neighbor’s child? BS!

  • VocalYokel

    Let’s just give the SBHE a blank check and eliminate the facade that passes for legislative oversight and taxpayer representation.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    Boy the greedheads just can’t stand it that the legacy fund exists and they can’t spend it yet.

  • borborygmi

    “As college became more expensive fewer students would go, or students would find lower-cost alternatives, and the market would find some equilibrium.” or you could raise admission standards so fewer people qualify to get in. The ones that don’t get in can pursue lower cost alternatives. To eliminate college or put it out of reach for brilliant but poor students is short sighted. Let brains be the deciding factor not money. Scholarships, loans, grants and working their way through college should be on the table. When you look at the number of alumni that donate to colleges it is a testament of the success they have found and which they attribute to their college education. To act as if a college education is not a benefit for many shows the short sighted hatred you have for everything higher ed.

    • winter wonderland

      I don’t think it’s fair of you to claim that people who are upset with North Dakota’s current higher education system are short sighted and hate everything higher ed. I am as pro education as they come. The core problem in North Dakota higher ed right now is corruption, waste fraud and abuse – especially at the administrative levels. The students and taxpayers are suffering. Student tuition and fees are skyrocketing yet student success rates in North Dakota are horrendous. It bothers me when people like you ignore the truth and bundle everything into the umbrella of pro or anti education. That is short sighted – closed minded thinking on your part. All I want is higher ed administration to play less politics and do their job which is focus on educating and preparing our children for a better future, and at the same time being wise responsible stewards of our taxpayer dollars. I want ethics, accountability and transparency from our higher ed administrators. I don’t want what we currently receive – where they slap lipstick on the pig known as higher ed corruption and pretend that everything is fine and dandy when it is not.

      • ec99

        “All I want is higher ed administration to play less politics and do their job which is focus on educating and preparing our children for a better future,”
        Well this is where complete change has to occur. The people you refer to are professional administrators. Most have not taught in decades, as they made their way up the bureaucratic ladder. As I’ve said before, students to them are tuition checks. You want a different system, then mandate that all administrators teach one class per semester, so they get to see the students they are admitting. Appoint qualified people to the SBHE instead of political hacks. And bring some sense of perspective to the importance of athletics.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      To act as if a college education is not a benefit for many shows the short sighted hatred you have for everything higher ed.</blockquote.

      That's a strawman. I didn't say that a college education isn't a benefit. I'm arguing, correctly, that college education is overpriced, diminishing its value.

      I'm in favor of a college education having a better value-to-cost ratio. Why are you against that?

  • Lynn Bergman

    Great selection, Rob. There are numerous other reasons this is bad legislation.

    First, it discriminates against those who wish to go directly from high school to the work force, instead rewarding only those who already have a jump on a good life with the intellect toward achieving a college education, parents who would fund it (unless, of course, the government will volunteer to fund it), or both.

    Second, it steals from the Legacy Fund… from a fund that MOST North Dakotans were convinced was set up to fund state government WHEN THE OIL AND GAS ARE GONE.

    Third, because it is just another piece of “big spending” by so-called Republicans… spending that prevents ANY MEANINGFUL TAX RELIEF OR REFORM… along with other vote pandering big spending efforts, it prevents the diversification of North Dakota’s economy.
    So we are STUCK with the agriculture and oil sectors here… with few new opportunities created by other new business sector prosperity that would be created if we, for example, eliminated all income taxes. Of course, then “government” couldn’t take credit!
    I knew this was coming… our state’s so-called leaders are the same vote pandering big spending mafia-like “Dons” that have had there rings fingers kissed in Italy for centuries.
    Boy, is conservatism in BIG BIG trouble! God help North Dakota and God help America. We are where the founders warned we would be some day…the takers outnumber the producers.