Carlson Reiterates Protection for the Budgets Sacred Cows

Today during floor debate on the Department of Commerce budget, House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R – District 41) acknowledged how difficult it has been to make budget cuts. According to Carlson, all departments will have 15-20% cuts, with two exceptions… K-12 education and Health & Human Services (HHS).

K-12 and HHS have become the sacred cows of the North Dakota budget. It’s almost as if they’re beyond reproach. Those who speak of cutting them are classified in the same categories as those who kill puppies and hate babies. If you’re a politician, it’s viewed as heartless to suggest minor cuts and its thought political suicide to suggest significant ones.

As a result of how these sacred cows are viewed, their budgets are two of the three largest in the total North Dakota Legislative Appropriations. K-12 made up 17.9% ($2.54 billion) of the 2015-2017 budget and HHS made up 27.4% ($3.89 billion).

As I mentioned earlier, Rep. Carlson’s comments came during debate on the Department of Commerce budget. And in an article I wrote earlier today, I mentioned that the current amended budget for the Department of Commerce sits at about the same level as the 2007-2009 biennium.

For a comparison, let’s see how the K-12 and HHS 2007-2009 budgets stack up in comparison to the 2015-2017 budget. K-12 made up 16.9% ($1.09 billion) of the 2007-2009 budget and HHS made up 33.3% ($2.15 billion).

This means that while K-12 has stayed at roughly the same percentage of the budget, the amount of dollars spent has increased by over 130%. While HHS has actually decreased as a percentage of the budget, the number of dollars spent there has increased by 80%.

As a matter of context, it is only fair to consider the increase in K-12 enrollment and population as well. K-12 enrollment increased by 13% from 2009-2015. And from 2007-2014 the population of North Dakota increased by just 13.2%.

To most, numbers can be boring, but these statistics are important. To me, they show an unnecessary growth of government. I suppose you can go ahead and unfairly throw me into the same categories as those who kill puppies and hate babies, but I don’t believe K-12 and HHS should be off limits to budget cuts. It’s time to look at cutting some fat off the sacred cows.

1. 2007-2009 Budget:
2. 2015-2017 Budget:
3. Al Carlson Debate Video on SB 2018 or Department of Commerce Budget:
4. DPI Statistics: (See "Enrollment History Public School Districts 2008-2017")
5. Population Statistics:

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About T. Arthur Mason 878 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.