RINO Of The Week: Governor Jack Dalrymple

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During North Dakota’s last legislative session I began a weekly post highlighting a Republican legislator who had further distanced himself/herself from what are supposed to be the conservative, limited government ideals of the party. The postings proved more popular than I expected. I began to get nominations from legislators in Bismarck, and I’m told that some honorees (if you can call it an honor) had RINO pins made up.

I’m not sure anyone should be proud of the fact that they’ve undermined the principles they’re supposed to stand for, but whatever.

Anyway, because of popular demand, I’ll be doing the RINO of the week again this year. You can email me your nominations ([email protected]), and I’ll pick a legislator each week to highlight. But for this first week of the legislative session I’m going to give the honors to someone outside of the legislative branch. Mostly because the legislature hasn’t done much this week outside of listen to addresses by the governor and other officials as well as work on submitting their legislation and organizing their committees.

The only person in the state who has really made any major policy-making moves is Governor Jack Dalrymple who has submitted his executive budget to the legislature, and delivered his “State of the State” speech laying out his priorities for the coming biennium. And through those actions, Dalrymple has earned the RINO of the Week designation.

Strike 1: Dalrymple is spending too much My friends in the executive branch tell me there is too much complaining going on about overall spending growth. They point out that the state has a booming economy, and the fastest growing population in the nation, and those things require more government. They have a point. More traffic, more people and more commerce necessitates more government. There’s no way to get around it. That being said, some of the governor’s spending priorities leave much to be desired. For instance, the governor is proposing a 38.7% increase in total appropriations for the university system. Since the 2003 – 2005 biennium, total appropriations to the university system have grown 150%, while enrollment has grown just 8.7%. Dalrymple’s budget also increases Human Services spending by 25%, at a time when prosperity in the state is growing. Dalrymple and the executive branch is quick to talk about “one time spending,” and the governor specifically warned against allowing the state’s current big appropriations to become part of our “base line budget.” But does anyone really believe that the big spending increases in these two areas, and others, won’t be with us going forward?

Strike 2: Dalrymple pushes phony tax relief With the state awash in tax revenues, citizens and business owners are looking for some relief. And why shouldn’t they? Unfortunately, what Dalrymple has put on the table isn’t tax relief at all. Dalrymple proposes shifting most of the burden for education funding from the local level to the state level, thus buying down property tax mills dedicated to schools. But that’s really just a shift in spending from one tax stream to another. The burden of government tax payers are carrying won’t get lighter. They’ll just be paying for this spending in a different way. What’s more, Dalrymple himself stressed during his State of the State address that local school districts would be free to keep increasing their property tax mill levies, meaning that while Dalrymple’s plan might reset local property taxes at a lower level, it won’t stop the upward climb that has citizens so upset.

Strike 3: Dalrymple begins state implementation of Obamacare I’ll admit that I had thought Governor Dalrymple was standing strong against implementing Obamacare in North Dakota. His office had made it pretty clear that North Dakota wouldn’t be creating the health insurance exchanges required by the law, which are the tool by which the government will control the health insurance markets. Unfortunately, one aspect of Obamacare Dalrymple did slip into his executive budget was the acceptance of Obamacare dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid program. That expansion is unnecessary, and at a time when most North Dakotans oppose Obamacare, the governor has no business implementing it.

Three strikes and you’re out. For these reasons, Governor Jack Dalrymple is, on the eve of his inauguration celebration in Bismarck, our inaugural RINO of the Week for the 2013 legislative session.

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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