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AS I SEE IT

Posted 9/23/14 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor
 
When North Dakota voters head to the polls in November, they are going to be asked to decide the fate of seven different measures. Last week, I addressed Measure No. 1 and encouraged voters to say “no” to Measure No. 1. That measure would add so much ambiguity to the North Dakota’s Constitution when it comes to defining human life that the state would be forever embroiled in legal challenges.
This week, I’ll be addressing Measure No. 2, which is being proposed by the Legislature and would prohibit the state or any political subdivision from imposing a tax on mortgages, and Measure No. 3, which would replace the current eight-member Board of Higher Education with three full-time commissioners.
Measure No. 2 would ban state and local governments from imposing a tax on real estate mortgages, and is really nothing more than a preemptive move on the part of the state’s realtors to forever prevent such a tax from being imposed.
At the onset let’s be clear, there has been very little, if any, discussion on the need from any governmental body in the state of North Dakota to impose such a tax. And considering that the North Dakota Legislature, which is now rolling in oil revenue, hasn’t been looking for ways to increase taxes, it is highly unlikely that they will look to a mortgage tax as being a big tax generator.
This is one amendment to the state’s constitution that really doesn’t make any difference whatsoever.
So, if you want to be sure that North Dakota can never have a mortgage tax, vote “Yes.” And if you, like me, abhor the idea of passing constitutional amendments that really do nothing more than add more language to the constitution, then feel free to vote “No.”
Measure No. 3 is another chance for North Dakotans to cast a “No” vote on a proposal that would change the makeup of the Board of Higher Education from its current eight-member volunteer board with three full-time commissioners.
If you live in North Dakota long enough, you will ultimately come to understand that we love colleges and universities. That is why the state funds a college or university in virtually every town that has over 5,000 people or where there was enough political power to get one created.
And, you will also come to realize that even though we like our higher education, the state has a very hard time trying to figure out how to manage all 11 of the bastions of higher education that it has.
The truth of the matter is that with that many colleges and universities, coupled with 11 college presidents who are building empires, and over half of North Dakota’s legislators protecting the interests of  those institutions of higher education that are in their districts, it is no wonder that the Board of Higher Education has a hard time keeping the ship on an even keel.
But to trade the eyes and opinions of eight North Dakota residents, who are willing to volunteer their time and energy to help our state’s education system, for a board of three full-time commissioners would be a step backward.
The Board of Higher Education has its share of problems, but using Measure 3 to fix those problems is not the answer.