State Board of Higher Education Voted to Oppose Measures 1 and 2
BISMARCK, N.D. - Members of the State Board of Higher Education voted to oppose Constitutional Amendment Measures 1 and 2 during an Oct. 8, 2008, special board meeting.
"Both Measures 1 and 2 are fundamentally flawed," said Bill Goetz, chancellor of the North Dakota University System. "If approved, Measure 1 will lock away oil tax money that should be invested in North Dakota's future, and Measure 2 will provide minimal income tax relief when property tax relief is what the people need and want."
"Measure 1 will put oil tax revenues into a simple savings account with no investment strategy, potentially locking away billions of dollars with no purpose or plan for its use," said Richie Smith, SBHE president. "In contrast, every dollar the state invests in the North Dakota University System yields about three dollars in increased sales, revenue and employment. Investing in the University System is just one example of how North Dakotans can use oil tax revenues responsibly to meet the needs of many sectors of state government and the people they serve.
"Comparing the flawed strategy of Measure 1 to an investment in higher education raises the fundamental question of why North Dakotans would settle for a simple savings account investment when the University System can demonstrate a 300 percent return on investment for the state. Voting for Measure 1 is a lot like burying your money in the backyard, while not maintaining your house or the property it sits on," Smith said.
"Measure 2 will result in minimal reductions in taxes paid by most North Dakotans, and it will do so at a serious cost for elementary, secondary and higher education as well as public safety, healthcare and other vital services," said Jon Backes, SBHE vice president. "These costs are likely to be passed on to state taxpayers in the form of higher property taxes. While North Dakota's economy is prospering, we should be investing in our state, its institutions, infrastructure and people in a manner that will ultimately reduce our property tax burden.
"Now is the time to invest in the state infrastructure that will make North Dakota an even better place to live and work. If Measure 2 passes, the next generation of North Dakotans will justifiably ask what motivated our refusal to continue to invest in our state's economic and demographic growth," Backes said.
Smith said there is a high likelihood of significant tuition increases at the 11 NDUS colleges and universities if Measures 1 and 2 are approved by voters. Reallocation of funds from other programs and priorities also may occur. Potential negative impacts of Measures 1 and 2 include the following:
Tuition increases between 8 percent and 12.5 percent to maintain the current level of services and programs and to provide 4 percent annual salary increases
Elimination of some or all of 2009-11 faculty and staff salary increases when NDUS faculty salaries already rank 50th in the nation
Further delays in building and infrastructure maintenance when the NDUS has a deferred maintenance backlog in excess of $110 million
Significant reductions in needs-based or merit-based student grant programs
Elimination of some academic programs and services on all 11 campuses, resulting in faculty and staff reductions
Delays in improving campus security intended to further protect students, faculty and staff in the event of on-campus emergencies
Delays in upgrades to classroom equipment and technology, limiting student exposure to current learning tools
Delayed program start-ups in response to state business and industry needs, thereby negatively impacting the state's economic growth
More limited student opportunities for workstudy, internships and on-the-job training activities
Increased class sizes, thereby limiting individual student contact
Reductions in the number of classes offered, thereby extending time-to-degree completion
Lack of resources to enhance student academic and career guidance
Reductions in teaching opportunities and the provision of health services through the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Reduced ability for the NDSU Extension Service to address the emerging needs of a strong agricultural economy
Reduced ability of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and Research Extension Centers to increase the economic vitality of crop and livestock production