Dean Meyer, District 36 Democrat Chairman, Dickinson
I've often heard that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Maybe it is a stretch, but I think that defines our approach to funding infrastructure needs in the Bakken.
I was somewhat surprised to see an article that the Oil and Gas Producing Counties are searching for a way to convince the legislature of the need for more state dollars. As a lifetime resident of western North Dakota, I see that need every day. But I think maybe the solution has been before them for many years.
Rep. Kenton Onstad introduced bills for several sessions that would have provided much needed revenue to these cities and counties before they became overwhelmed. He introduced legislation allowing the counties to borrow against future oil revenue (as coal counties are able to do) so they could build needed infrastructure without bonding.
He introduced legislation to increase the funding for the impact grants. Onstad introduced legislation that would increase the money from the gross production tax coming back to the counties. Time and time again these bills were defeated by the Republican majority. Why? In my opinion, and that of many of my friends, was they were defeated because they came from the minority party. And that is a travesty.
Sen. Mac Schneider, minority leader in the Senate, and Rep. Kenton Onstad, minority leader in the House, have fought hard, and continue to fight to get ahead of this struggle to build needed infrastructure.
To me, the solution to receiving adequate funding so our cities, counties, and residents of the oil and gas producing counties do not have to go into such great debt to keep up with development is actually simple. Allow the Democrat minority party a voice, or elect more Democrats to the legislature.