Nov. 4 election - District 12, N.D. HouseVoters will select two people to serve a four-year term in District 12 in the North Dakota House of Representatives. Early voting begins Oct. 20. Democratic incumbents Lyle Hanson and Joe Kroeber are seeking re-election. Republican challenger Dallas Rosin is seeking election. The Sun asked 10 written questions of these candidates. Here are their answers.
Age: Not provided
Nearest city of residence: Jamestown
Education: Graduate of Gwinner High School, University of North Dakota, Ellendale Branch, Moorhead State University
Immediate family (spouse, children, number of grandchildren): Wife, Betty Hanson. Children, Patricia Smith and Paul Hanson. Three grandchildren.
Five memberships/organizations most important to you: Trinity Lutheran Church, United Sportsmen, Stutsman County Wildlife, North Dakota Education Association and National Education Association.
Nearest city of residence: Jamestown
Employment: Retired high school science teacher. Teach Anatomy/Physiology for Jamestown College’s Physical Education Department.
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in biology and physical education, Valley City (N.D.) State University, Master of Science degree in education, North Dakota State University, Fargo.
Immediate family (spouse, children, number of grandchildren): Wife, Bonnie. Children, Kristi, Kelle and Phil. Five grandchildren.
Five memberships/organizations most important to you: Buffalo Valley Red Cross Board, National Buffalo Museum, Duck’s Unlimited, United Sportsmen and the National Smokejumper’s Association.
Nearest city of residence: Jamestown
Employment: youth worker, Concordia Lutheran Church, Jamestown
Education: Central Cass High School, Casselton, N.D.; Bachelor of Arts in theology, Concordia University, Seward, Neb.; Certificate of Director of Christian Education, Concordia University, Seward, Neb.
Immediate Family: Wife, Elissa
Five memberships/organizations most important to you: Concordia Lutheran Church, St. Andrew Mission Society, Lutheran Laymen’s League, North Dakota Right to Life, North Dakota Teen Challenge
1. Residents are feeling overburdened by property taxes. Gov. John Hoeven has proposed to provide more state funding to schools districts that lower their mill levy by 75 mills. Do you agree with this proposal or do you have other ideas to reduce property taxes? Explain.
Lyle Hanson: I support the governor’s plan for education with some exceptions being that I would change the $300 million to $400 million for property relief, leave the $100 million for education funding, and I’m not sure of the $100 million for income tax reduction. I would like to see a reduction in sales tax.
Joe Kroeber: I need more information on the governor’s plan in order to give it my full support. Does it include the $112 million which we funded last time? Any property tax and/or education plan cannot expire at the end of the biennium. A property tax relief plan must be included in the budget this session. I support the additional $100 million the governor is setting aside from elementary/secondary education. This increase will help to meet our funding goal for 70 percent from the state level. Your property taxes have paid more for education funding than the state has for more than 15 years.
Dallas Rosin: Local government will always understand its own challenges and strengths better than state government. It doesn’t cost any less to get money from the governor than it does to get it from the school district. Where do you think the governor gets his money? From our taxes! Power always follows money. If we give more money to the state to fund our schools, the state will tell us how to spend it, and 96 percent of North Dakota legislators are not from Jamestown. The best way to lower property taxes is by electing officials locally who will do so.
2. Economic development depends on good infrastructure, but the cost of it is hurting development or preventing many communities from moving forward. What ideas do you have for providing the infrastructure to make economic development work?
Hanson: At the present time the governor has a number of proposals for infrastructure money. I would support those proposals.
Kroeber: Economic development statewide must be a joint venture including federal, state, county and local organizations. They must work with private companies and individuals to expand our economy. The North Dakota Department of Commerce receives more than $23 million of general fund money to help direct and fund economic development. The Bank of North Dakota has the charge to promote agriculture, commerce and industry in the state. Its loan portfolio is $1.7 billion for business, residential, student and agriculture loans. The BND profits will allow the state to expand its loan portfolio.
Rosin: Economic development is a natural byproduct of a free market. The infrastructure underneath that development should also be a product of the free market. The state’s role is not to provide infrastructure for economic development, but to allow infrastructure to develop in a free market. The state can help by regulating as little as possible.
3. In the last session, legislators began the overhaul of K-12 education funding at the state level with a more equitable funding formula. This session will address the adequacy of educational funding. Where do you stand on this issue? What would you like to see happen?
Hanson: According to the study by PICUS and Associates they recommend $3,774 per student for equitable funding. I agree with that study.
Kroeber: Adequacy of education funding has to be addressed with the equitable funding issue. The only time you can make the required changes is while you make changes and additions to the funding formula. A consulting service said the combined state and local spending for an adequate public school system in North Dakota is close to $7,293 per year per student, not far from the $7,024 that was actually paid last year. However, it is important that the state continue to take over a higher percent of the overall cost of education.
Rosin: Power always follows money. If we here in Jamestown ask the state to give us more money, they will tell us how more of our money can be spent. Ninety-six percent of state legislators are not from Jamestown. Jamestown has a better understanding of its own needs and strengths. We can better decide how to spend our own money. If we lower state taxes and raise local ones, we can pay the same in overall taxes, but keep the power right here at home. That’s what I’d like to see.
4. What do you think of the state’s surplus and what do you think should be done with the money? Explain.
Hanson: The money should be used to improve infrastructure of the state and some of the money should be used to fund Education K-12.
Kroeber: The state surplus has developed from higher oil prices and in-creased production in the Bakken formation, along with commodity price increases. A good share of the surplus is in the Permanent Oil Tax Fund. Last session we used the following from the fund. General fund ($71 million), property tax relief ($112 million), Homestead Tax Credit ($3.6 million for elderly and disabled), and the Veteran’s Home ($6.5 million). OMB estimated that $137 million would remain in the fund. If Measure 1 does not pass, we will have a bipartisan bill to place a percentage into a fund just like Alaska and Wyoming do.
Rosin: I think that it’s OK that the state collected more money from taxpayers than it needed, but after taking more than it needs, I think that there are only two reasonable things to do: A. Give money back to the people that it took the money from, in the same percentages that it took. B. Keep it to pay the bills of the next year, and lower taxes to more accurately represent the financial need for that year. To take more than you need just to give it back with strings attached is just not right.
5. A state legislative panel recommended funding to remodel a portion of the North Dakota State Penitentiary. Do you agree with this proposal? Should the Legislature approve it? Why or why not?
Hanson: I agree with the remodeling plan for the state penitentiary. The Legislature should approve the plan.
Kroeber: I do agree with the remodel of the North Dakota State Penitentiary project. We placed $41 million in last year’s budget for this project. The panel received information that the total cost today will be more than this amount. Putting off the project has cost the taxpayer dollars. We have a great safety issue for prisoners and staff in the old facility. The east cell block must be torn down and replaced.
Rosin: I hesitate to snap to a judgment on an issue that I do not fully understand. If the penitentiary structurally needs an improvement, then “a stitch in time saves nine (stitches … or bricks as it were).” But if the money is only for beautification purposes, I would oppose it. Why? Nobody’s remodeling the walls at my house. Why should I pay to beautify a criminal’s house?
6. Community corrections (community service) is falling into the hands of local governments to fund. Does the state have a responsibility in funding this as an alternative to incarceration? Why or why not?
Hanson: The state should fund Community Corrections, because it is too costly to incarcerate the offenders.
Kroeber: Yes we do have a state responsibility to help with Community Service Programs. Alternatives to incarceration programs save the taxpayer dollars and are also good for the offender, city, county and the state. It does not make sense to keep looking at new programs and not taking care of the old ones that we know work.
Rosin: I believe that, because of the nature of “community service crimes,” a deeper understanding of the causes and fitting punishments for these crimes can be better addressed by a local government. In addition, I think it makes more sense for Jamestown to be responsible for James-town’s problems. I don’t expect any other community to pay for our problems, nor do I think it’s right for us to ask them to pay for ours.
7. A skilled work force is necessary in the state. Training initiatives are expected to be presented at the session. What is the Legislature’s responsibility in this area? Explain.
Hanson: The Legislature will have to look at funding Training Initiatives if we are going to have a workforce that is skilled.
Kroeber: We have enacted legislation to enhance work force training in the past sessions. An interim committee on work force training will give its final report in November. It should help us determine what is now available and changes which should be made. We need to expand our vocational centers and also use them for work force training centers. NDSSS and the Technology Center in Fargo should expand their programs. We have placed addition funding in centers out West to help with the energy sector problems.
Rosin: There are two ways to deal with the market. 1. You can try to control it. 2. You can let it be free. The danger of having government invest money in industries (by training initiatives for them) is that if the industry sees a market decline, politicians may want to try to help an industry unnaturally (subsidize) to make it appear that they made the right decision in the past. So the temptation is then to control an industry to justify past spending. I am in favor of a free market.
8. If you are an incumbent, explain why voters should re-elect you. If you are running for election, why should voters choose you over the incumbent? Explain.
Hanson: With my experience I feel I understand what has to be accomplished at the state level. I have always worked hard for the people of my district and state.
Kroeber: I have served on the House Appropriations Committee for five of my eight terms. I feel I have a good understanding of the state budget, of our trust funds and the overall financial position of the state. Some of the most important decisions made will be the proper used and savings within our state budget. We will have an opportunity to invest in important infrastructure of our state which will help maximize our economy.
Rosin: I am a hunter, and will continue to fight for our right to legally hunt in North Dakota. Lyle Hanson and Joe Kroeber voted against gun rights when it came to defending yourself in your home (HB1319). I would have supported this bill. Hanson and Kroeber voted to have police stop and ticket you for not wearing your seat belt (HB1254). I would have opposed this bill. Hanson and Kroeber voted four times against anti-abortion bills that I would have supported. I am endorsed by the North Dakota Right to Life.
9. Measure 2, if approved by voters, would cut state individual income tax by 50 percent and corporate income tax by 15 percent. Do you support Measure 2? Explain.
Hanson: No, because it is written wrong on the ballot.
Kroeber: I do not support Measure 2 — Neither our individual income tax rates or our corporate tax rates are too high. Income taxes make up 30 percent of our General Fund Budget. These are the dollars that fund elementary/secondary education, Human Services, higher education and general government. These are our sustainable dollars. This measure assumes that we will always have a large surplus. It would mean a loss of $440 million to the General Fund. If we lose this funding, it would be almost impossible to get it back.
Rosin: If Measure 2 passes, I will not benefit much, I’m on the bottom rung. My wife and I would save a whole 1.05 percent of not much already. And the people with more money would definitely save more. But to me, it’s not about the dollars saved, it’s about freedom. If income taxes go down, sales taxes might some day have to go up, but at least then I can choose to buy less. Almost 20 percent of U.S. states do not pay any income tax at all. That’s the direction I want to move. I support Measure 2.
10. Is the state on the right track in energy development or should it be doing more? Explain.
Hanson: The state of North Dakota is on the right track.
Kroeber: We need to do more to keep our energy development on track. We are going to need additional transmission lines for our wind energy. We should be looking at ways to increase refining capacity in our state, so we are not discounted on every barrel of oil we sell.
Rosin: I think that the state is on the right track. There is always more to do when it comes to energy development, but I think the state can benefit from the Legislature doing little. Capitalism is the best system we’ve got, and it thrives in a free market, not a government regulated one. The Legislature should continue to do as little as is safe, and leave the growth up to the market and the people.
Friday: District 12 candidates for North Dakota Senate