I’ve been spending a lot of time griping about spending in North Dakota, specifically the way it’s grown under Governor John Hoeven. One specific area that even adamant critics of the state’s too-high spending have been hesitant to harp on is education spending. And for obvious reasons. For someone who is saying that we’re spending too much it’s too easy for the other side to say that they want kids to get an inferior education. Which isn’t true, of course. All people like me want is efficient spending, but that doesn’t stop those charges from being made.
Regardless, I think education funding is something we really need to take a look at in this state. For instance, check out the increase in general fund spending over the last several years:
Now, some might see that much of an increase in spending on education as a good thing, but when trend for the number of students enrolled in North Dakota’s public schools looks like this…
…there’s a serious problem. We have increased spending on public schools in this state by hundreds of millions of dollars to educate a state-wide student body that has been drastically reduced in size. And while state-level spending has little impact on local property taxes, it’s this same trend of “spend spend spend” that is causing property taxes to go so high. Which, frankly, is probably the issue North Dakotans are most upset about right now.
What we need is some leadership at the state level to take this sort of spending to task. And I realize that, politically speaking, that’s no easy task for all the reasons I described above, but that just means we need leaders in the state who are up to the challenge in a way that goes beyond the Governor’s property tax refund from income taxes which does absolutely nothing to address the spending problems that are driving the tax problem in the first place.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear as though Governor Hoeven or even anyone in our state legislature is that leader.