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LETTER: Budget decisions don’t belong in constitution

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GRAND FORKS — Some who are attempting to place a conservation fund and a 5 percent oil extraction tax in the North Dakota Constitution believe they were not given fair treatment by the Legislature.

There is a difference between “listening to” and “agreeing with.” This group did present their plan to the Senate. It was heard and not accepted. The Legislature did appropriate up to $30 million for the “Outdoor Heritage Fund.” Very important: This fund cannot be used for the purchase of farm or ranch land.

The proposed constitutional measure will pay for land purchases. I do not believe it is wise to put in place unfair competition for taxpaying farmers and ranchers.

In my opinion, it is a mistake to carve up state revenues with constitutional mandates for special interest programs. Over a period of time, what is in “the public interest” may change, and the citizens through the Legislature must be able to address changing concerns and priorities.

If the constitutional amendment proposal should reach the ballot, a “no” vote is, in my opinion, in the public interest.

Strinden is a former majority leader of the North Dakota House.

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