The Enchanted Castle at the south end of the Enchanted Highway in Regent was the site of some very encouraging words from three candidates vying for positions in public office.
Rich Brauhn, Democratic Senate candidate for District 36 and his wife Marianne were in attendance. Dr. Richard Brauhn, is a former Dickinson State vice president for academic affairs and earned his doctorate in American history from the University of North Dakota, a masters degree in history from the University of Northern University and also several degrees in engineering.
Democratic candidate for Public Service Commissioner Brad Crabtree is running because he feels that he can put the public back into the Public Service Commission. Crabtree grew up in Bismarck and ranches with his family in Dickey County, south of Kulm. Currently, Brad co-directs the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, a nationwide coalition of industry, state government, and labor and environmental leaders that recently made bipartisan recommendations to Congress and states aimed at significantly expanding American oil production. He believes that now is a very critical time for our state and his priorities for the Commission are: 1) It must be consumer oriented. 2) It must watch out for the interest of farmers. 3) Energy development must not supercede what the infrastructure can handle 4) Energy has to partner up with the farmers.
Crabtree has more than two decades of experience in all the aspects of the energy industry and strongly believes that oil and coal are very important forms of energy, but it is a “one time harvest” and we must continue our use and expansion of renewable forms also.
Ryan Taylor is a “man on a mission,” and he delivered that message last week during a campaign stop at Regent.
Taylor, the Democratic candidate for governor and current State Senate Minority Leader, claims he is the best candidate for North Dakota in this time of unprecedented economic prosperity. He also told the approximately 30 in attendance that he would also help the oil impacted areas.
“The state receives the taxes on oil, but only 11 percent is returned directly to the impacted areas,” Taylor said. “For every dollar that the oil-impacted areas create in tax revenue, they only get a dime back. That has to change.”
Taylor gave a couple of examples of other states with energy taxes, such as Colorado, which he said the impacted areas retain 63 percent and in Montana they retain 39 percent.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” he said. “It is a God-given resource that no one can take credit for. This is a one-time harvest, a one-time chance for us. What I ask, is ‘What have we built with that one-time harvest?’”
Taylor’s plan calls for a formula to where 40 percent of oil tax revenues return directly to producing communities and the building of a new oil refinery in the state. Currently, the state has a single refinery located in Mandan.
Taylor encouraged the audience that investing a portion of the oil revenue in education, from head start to college, was the key.
“These (students) will be the workers that will be here when the oil is gone,” Taylor explained. And, after the oil is gone, the human value is what is left. Our ethics.
He added that North Dakota was one of 10 states with no funding for Head Start and pre-kindergarten programs, among other educational programs. No money for school expenses and so, local property taxes have to be raised. He also stated, “In North Dakota, agriculture is still number one.”
He also discussed the need for greater law enforcement to combat the rising crime numbers. “The rate of crime is rising three times faster than the increase in the number of law enforcement,” he said.
In Taylor’s plan, which was outlined on a single sheet of paper and available to the public, he would like the state to “return to and maintain the 2009 ratio of law enforcement personnel to the population” and to “add judicial personnel in areas of greatest need.”
For education, Taylor’s plan calls for the following:
• $110 million for school facilities
• Teacher salaries from 47th to 40th in four years
• $25 million for up to $3,600 per year for four years to full- and part-time college students based on need
• Full funding for the ND Scholars program
• Tax credits for employers who pay employee tuition
• Merit selection advisory committee and governance education for the State Board of Education
He also outlined a plan for childcare for the state:
• $30.6 million for childcare facility grants in areas of high need to serve up to 4,000 more children
• $15 million in childcare workforce development grants and parent support programs
• Childcare growth fund with the private sector with tax credits
• $20 million investments in Head Start and pre-kindergarten
“North Dakota is defined by a sense of community. That’s what defines us,” Taylor said.
Taylor is challenging Jack Dalrymple, the Republican candidate and current governor. The race will be decided Nov. 6 at the general election. Also appearing on the ballot for governor are Roland Reimers, a libertarian now running as and independent, and Paul Sorum, an independent.
“Compare the ideas,” Taylor said of the candidates running for governor. “Whose vision is stronger for where the state is going? Who has the greatest passion for making it happen? Then, make your decision.”