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LETTER: Conservation amendment diverts resources

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Before North Dakotans sign a petition to support the Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment, they should ask themselves this question: Are our state’s needs being met?

The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment is a proposed constitutional measure that would allocate 5 percent of the oil extraction taxes — conservatively estimated at $300 million per biennium — to a new fund. This constitutionally mandated funding is on top of the $130 million the state already spends per biennium on parks, wildlife and conservation.

With the rapid growth and expansion of our state, this measure will take a significant amount of money that could be used for our expanding needs such as schools, infrastructure and tax relief.

In addition, the uses of this fund directly compete with our state’s two largest industries, agriculture and energy.

The Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment also will shrink the property tax base and increase property taxes, because more land would be owned by the federal government, nonprofit groups or state agencies.

We need to spend our tax dollars on long-term investments that will help meet the current needs of our growing state. This measure is simply irresponsible, and I will not support it.

Brian Amundson