Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D – Minnesota) election to the United States House of Representatives in 2018 was nothing short of historic. Consider these facts about the Representative from Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District:
- She was the first woman of color elected to represent Minnesota in the United States Congress.
- She was the first Somali-American elected to the United States Congress.
- Along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D – Michigan), she was one of the first two Muslim women elected to the United States Congress.
When considering these facts alone, Omar’s story is unique— the sort of stuff that movies are made of and history books never forget. Yet, these things have largely been overshadowed in the seven plus months since November’s election by a variety of headlines relating to the congresswoman from Minnesota. In no order of importance, here are some examples:
- Omar was pressured into apologizing for some remarks many viewed as “anti-Semitic”. Even Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wasn’t pleased with the comments.
- She has what appears to be a very complicated marital history. So much so, that it seems she jointly filed her tax returns with one man while being legally married to another.
- Earlier this month, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board ruled that Omar repeatedly violated state rules in her use of campaign funds. They ordered her to repay nearly $3,500 to her campaign committee and a $500 civil penalty.
- She declared the efforts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be “un-American” and has proudly proclaimed herself as President Trump’s “biggest nemesis” because of the immigration issue.
- Omar ripped conservatives and other pro-lifers on the House floor, saying that recent efforts to protect the unborn “are only the latest in a long history of efforts to criminalize women for simply existing.”
- She basically blamed the NRA for the recent shooting in Virginia. This isn’t entirely surprising when we consider this Tweet in which she describes them as “the true enemy” or that she has made horribly misleading statements regarding gun deaths in America that Politifact rated as “False”.
- When Omar — a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — was asked to address a report showing that her district has the highest rate of terrorist recruitment in the United States, she refused to answer questions as to what she’s doing to deter extremism and recruitment.
Much of this shouldn’t be surprising though. After all, Rep. Omar’s own campaign site shows her as a self-proclaimed “progressive voice”. Her goal — in her own words — is to “achieve a bold, progressive agenda”. And her platform proves that she’s serious about it.
What many North Dakotans may not realize though is that they contributed to Omar’s rise to prominence. How? By subsidizing her education. She graduated from North Dakota State University (NDSU) in 2011.
As was reported by KFYR just over two years ago, students attending North Dakota’s eleven public colleges and universities end up having their education “heavily subsidized”. And that includes students from out of state. KFYR’s report came as the result of two proposals (HB 1264 & HB 1265) during the 2017 North Dakota Legislative Session that sought to make changes regarding North Dakota funding out-of-state students. Both proposals failed.
As explained by the bills’ sponsor Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7) during floor debate on HB 1265, there is currently no limit to the amount of students North Dakota accepts on reciprocity agreements— meaning there’s no limit to the number of out-of-state students that we subsidize. As shown in this 2019 report, Minnesota has had a reciprocity agreement with North Dakota since 1975. And Omar appears to have been a beneficiary of it.
In a nutshell, the tuition charged by our colleges and universities doesn’t reflect the true cost of a student’s education. It’s true that Minnesota issues a “gap” payment to help cover the difference, but as you’ll see in the aforementioned explanation by Rep. Becker, it doesn’t come close to covering it— which still results in the subsidy by North Dakota taxpayers.
Year after year and biennium after biennium, the people of North Dakota are on the hook for giving “free money” to in-state and out-of-state students alike. The fact that we helped pay for the education of a rising progressive political star in the process is just one aspect of a much bigger problem.
It’s past time to rethink the insanity associated with throwing money at higher education in North Dakota.
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