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LETTERS: Democrats' mantra on oil-tax revenue: More

The Viewpoint by State Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere, represented the oil extraction tax cut as an $11 million a month loss in revenue to the state ("North Dakota erred badly by cutting oil tax," Page A4, Feb. 19).

The Viewpoint by State Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere, represented the oil extraction tax cut as an $11 million a month loss in revenue to the state ("North Dakota erred badly by cutting oil tax," Page A4, Feb. 19).

He inferred that the cut would mean "billions less" for water projects, infrastructure development and other state spending priorities.

But I have a few questions about his logic.

Who earned the money in the first place? It was the oil companies that took the risks and paid the costs to drill for oil in North Dakota. When they make a profit, state government wants its cut on behalf of the taxpayers. But when companies operate at a loss, which is all too common right now, does the state offer to reciprocate by returning a percent of the money?

Also, why does Dotzenrod assume that lowering a tax rate automatically will lower revenues? Reducing the tax rate does not always result in lower revenues in the long run.

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In fact, some small companies will survive in part due to the tax cut, and so will be around to pay taxes when oil prices rebound.

Why does he assume that taxpayers have a "right" to the tax revenues, as if they earned it? Is it the responsibility of oil companies to pay for government-invented projects such as the ill-conceived Red River Diversion Project; to pay for the infrastructure needs of the state and a big part of K-12 education; and to partly fund higher education, even after Harold Hamm's gift of $10 million to supercharge UND's geological and petroleum engineering programs?

Why not tell it like it is? State government's "fairy tale projections" were based on much higher oil prices than are currently the case. So why is Dotzenrod saying that $11 million a month has been "lost" when such revenues never existed in the first place?

Lastly, is the good senator aware of how disconnected a party has to be to keep espousing the same policies despite holding (by a whisker) only one publicly elected statewide office in North Dakota?

Lynn Bergman

Grand Forks

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