(BISMARCK, N.D.) – Senate Democratic-NPL Leader Joan Heckaman (New Rockford) and House Democratic-NPL Leader Corey Mock (Grand Forks) issued the following statements following the conclusion of the 65th legislative session.
Sen. Joan Heckaman
“Throughout the legislative session, our Dem-NPL caucus was committed to working in a bipartisan fashion on good, sensible policies for North Dakota, while also holding the majority accountable when they were reckless or attempted to pass policies that were not in the best interests of our citizens. Democratic-NPL lawmakers played crucial roles in shaping and passing legislation that will have meaningful impacts on the lives of North Dakotans in every corner and every community in our state – from Fargo to Williston; Bowman to Cavalier.
“Democratic-NPL lawmakers played key roles in shaping policies that will help continue Medicaid expansion, which provides healthcare to over 18,000 North Dakotans, foster innovation in our schools, provide alternatives to incarceration, and protect victims of abuse, assault and domestic violence. We also opposed ill-conceived and, at times, detrimental laws that would have drastically reduced education funding, implemented a school voucher system without accountability, taxed senior citizens, and cut programs for the elderly, the homeless and victims of human trafficking. In some cases, we were able to prevent these irresponsible policies entirely; in other cases, we were able to blunt the severity of their impact.
“When it came to balancing the budget, we had strong differences in our positions, approach and priorities with the Republican caucus. We made these differences known, and we will continue to make our case to the citizens of North Dakota. But as we gavel out this evening after a long day of finalizing our legislative work, Democratic-NPL lawmakers can and should be proud of their accomplishments and the conviction with which they fought for all North Dakotans.”
Rep. Corey Mock:
“At the beginning of the legislative session, lawmakers from both parties confronted a budget shortfall of $1.5 billion. This shortfall was in part the result of low commodity prices and a sagging economy. But it was also the result of excessive spending over the last several sessions and ill-advised tax cuts that sacrificed much of North Dakota’s revenue to benefit corporations and oil companies. In fact, the cost of the corporate income tax cuts and oil extraction tax cuts passed by the Republican majority amounted to one-third of the budget shortfall we faced.
“Lawmakers in the Democratic-NPL caucus recognized the need to make cuts, eliminate inefficiencies, and find more cost-effective ways to run government. And in many areas, we worked in a bipartisan fashion to accomplish this. However, many of the decisions made by the majority to close our $1.5 billion shortfall were neither responsible, nor fair to our citizens, nor sustainable for our future – and we strongly opposed them. These decisions were irresponsible because they imposed severe cuts to core services and eliminated proven, cost-effective programs that served our citizens well. They were unfair because they held corporations harmless while increasing property taxes and asking rural towns and working families to make disproportionate sacrifices. And they were unsustainable because the majority chose to drain our savings accounts, leaving few options to maintain our obligations and respond to future budget shortfalls.”