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Trimming the fat

When you go to a buffet, you're likely to overeat. That apparently has happened with the North Dakota Legislature, which has been unable to control its appetite. Eyes bugging out from an anticipated $600 million surplus, legislators have gorged t...

When you go to a buffet, you're likely to overeat.

That apparently has happened with the North Dakota Legislature, which has been unable to control its appetite.

Eyes bugging out from an anticipated $600 million surplus, legislators have gorged themselves on spending and on issuing tax breaks. The two chambers have endorsed proposals that will boost spending to $2.68 billion over two years, 34.8 percent more than current spending levels. Plus, lawmakers have handed out tax breaks that will reduce collections by $201 million.

Don't fear, however. Legislators are only halfway done. The House will reduce Senate spending and the Senate will reduce House spending. And then Gov. John Hoeven will reduce both.

That's because there's some extravagance - binge eating, if you will - in these proposals.

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So, it's time to cut the fat and close the loopholes. Here are some of the items that likely will be erased as the Legislature cuts expenditures and raises revenues.

1. Cappuccino bar and tanning beds for the new prison.

2. Lincoln Continentals for Highway Patrol cars.

3. Silk uniforms for DMV employees.

4. Couples who name their newborn daughter "Mikey" receive an income tax break.

5. Sardi's of New York City named official state agency caterer.

6. Reimbursed toll charges for calling into Ed Schultz's radio show and heckling him.

7. Bonus for anyone who shoots a burglar.

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8. Hiring of 1960s-era hippies to test industrial hemp for the strongest "rope."

9. Not only free tuition, but free Saturday keggers for in-state college students with at least a 23 ACT score.

10. Alarm clocks to wake up all-day kindergartners from their naps.

11. To help bingo parlors damaged by smoking ban, state-issued prizes for players who get just B-I-N-G.

12. Salaries for more school para-professionals, including school dance chaperones.

13. A Heritage Center expansion big enough to house every rusted plow in the state.

14. Statewide health plan that covers pedicures.

15. Elimination of school buses in favor of Hummers.

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16. Bulletproof vests for elk on high-fence game farms.

17. Giant air filtration system to handle dust over Thompson.

18. Mates for New Salem Sue and Jamestown's buffalo.

19. Lowering Devils Lake level by trucking water to drought areas.

20. Additional high school electives, such as "Tips for Keeping Your Monthly Cell Phone Minutes Under 1,000."

21. No sales tax on leisure suit purchases by legislators.

22. Four-lane freeway between Finley and Sharon.

23. A pheasant in every pot.

24. Veterans' benefits for former Boy Scouts.

25. Subsidized air fresheners for feedlots, beet plants.

Reach Bakken at 780-1125, (800) 477-6572 ext. 125 or rbakken@gfherald.com .

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