Governor Burgum Supports New Tax on Senior Citizens

Tonight a press release went out from Governor Burgum’s office detailing his budget proposals. The Governor’s plan comes at the beginning of the third legislative week. The announcement states Burgum, “presented legislative leaders Monday with an executive budget proposal that recommends additional cuts and realigns spending priorities to spur innovation, creativity and the reinvention of government.” I’ve heard from those in the Capitol that not all the Republican leaders knew their conversation with Burgum was an official proposal until they read the press release later. It sounds like they’re not happy with the Governor.

Deeper cuts, fewer transfers, and revenue projections below what former Governor Dalrymple used set the two Executive budget proposals apart. Yet, not all of Dalrymple’s proposals were given the ax. Here is a screen shot of “Highlights from Dalrymple’s budget that Burgum has retained include:”

Did you notice it? Right below the first bullet supporting the continuation of Medicaid Expansion (which is good to see), Burgum chose to retain the “assessment” on nursing homes in HB 1130. We were the first to break the news on HB 1130 which was introduced by the Office of Management and Budget under the direction of Dalrymple. The first hearing on HB 1130 took place today in the House Human Services Committee. The money to cover the cost of services will be raised on the backs of private pay senior citizens who live in a nursing facility. According to the release that is just fine though, because “more than 40 states” already do it. Why is it whenever there is a bad proposal elected officials and lobbyists are quick to say, “Yeah, but everyone else is doing it!” as if that makes it okay?

I’ve said it before, call it an assessment, call it a fee, call it whatever the hell you want, HB 1130 is a new tax on senior citizens. It comes forward because the legislature has dramatically cut other means of revenue like the oil tax and corporate income taxes. There needs to be courage to find other means to secure the state dollars and receive the federal match for these services.

Tonight, Doug Burgum, the man who campaigned on the promise of balancing the budget with “no new taxes,” appears to support breaking that promise. I wonder if this proposal to raise money from grandpa and grandma is part of the plan to, “reinvent government” we’ve heard him talk so much about? This is not the “innovation” a lot of North Dakotans thought they were getting.


Tyler Axness
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