(This article originally appeared on The Minuteman Facebook page on January 6, 2017.)
If you are a Republican that identifies as conservative, libertarian-leaning, or a constitutionalist, then House Minority Leader Corey Mock’s statement last week should make you shudder.
In an article published last week called “North Dakota Lawmakers, New Governor Prepare for Session,” Forum News Service’s John Hageman included a quote where Mock claimed that state Democrats and Republicans are “probably going to agree on more than (we disagree).”
The sad thing is that Rep. Mock may be onto something here. While Republicans have a super-majority in both the House and Senate, and the Democrats have been relegated to the status of an endangered political species in the state, the results coming out of the state capitol are often less than desirable.
The budget alone over the last ten years is a good example. Not long ago, the state enjoyed record-setting revenues during the historic Bakken Oil Boom.
The problem was that spending also sky-rocketed, resulting in the legislature being called into Special Session back in August to address a budget shortfall. And rather than making true cuts, only reduction of increases were made to patch things over to the current session. Former Rep. Mark Dosch couldn’t even get a second from his Republican colleagues in committee at the Special Session to debate his amendment to make deeper cuts.
Leading up to the legislative session that began this week, many Republicans expressed their desire to use “rainy day funds” to address budgeting issues. Suggestions even include raiding the Legacy Fund, which comes available for the first time in June of this year.
Such suggestions by some Republicans and their leadership indicates that while many of them recognize that spending cannot continue at the same rate it has been in recent years, they’re not at all committed to making deep cuts to spending.
Perhaps outgoing Governor Jack Dalrymple’s budget that he submitted to the legislature in December is the best example of how establishment Republicans just can’t seem to let go of the spending. His budget left a surplus of not even $3 million. Even some fellow establishment Republicans weren’t comfortable with that.
Certainly there are differences between the two sides in Bismarck. But not enough of a difference. I’ve heard it said many times that, “Who needs Democrats when we have all the RINO Republicans in Bismarck?”
If Republicans want to shake that impression, then they need to start acting like Republicans. And they need to start doing so now– this session. Otherwise, all they’ll prove is that Corey Mock is right…they may just have more in common with Democrats than they have differences.