Rep. Craig Headland’s House Bill 1530 wasn’t my favorite proposal to eliminate the state income tax, but it was better than nothing. Had it passed, it would have used Legacy Fund earnings to reduce income taxes— with the goal of eventually eliminating them. While the bill easily passed the House on a vote of 61-31, the Senate is largely a mysterious cult of illogical and unsympathetic elected officials uninterested in significantly reducing the size of government and eliminating unnecessary tax burdens on the citizenry. So, it was no surprise yesterday when they added HB 1530 to their trash heap of bills they deemed “to have the best of intentions”, yet worthy of legislative death.
Senator Jessica Unruh’s (R – District 33) rationale in calling for defeat of Rep. Headland’s bill wasn’t rational at all. In Unruh’s mind, previous reductions to the income tax rate were enough— as if permitting North Dakotans to keep more of their money is a bad thing. Oh, and we can’t jeopardize the old “three-legged stool”— heaven forbid. Call me crazy, but I’m fairly certain that there’s more than three legs on that old stool. But then again, maybe Common Core Math says otherwise.
Senator Unruh’s moment of honesty came at the end of her comments though when she acknowledged that passing HB 1530 would “tie up” half the earnings of the Legacy Fund. Instead, they want to “continue [their] Legacy Fund discussions.” You know, for things like $50 million towards a presidential library. Because funding such things is somehow more important than reducing the tax burden on the citizenry?
If the senators who voted with Unruh today truly bought into her arguments, then it seems we’ve reached the limits of how much the North Dakota Senate believes we should get to keep of our money.
Whether it’s things like killing property tax reform and raising property taxes, rejecting multiple efforts to eliminate the state income tax, raising driver’s license fees, creating a new lodging tax, or shifting the tax burden; the 2019 Legislature has been a disappointment. And that’s putting it mildly.
PLEASE LIKE & SHARE!