Letter to the Editor: ND Republicans show hand
This session the North Dakota Republican supermajority has shown its hand, and that hand is not a helping one to low-income children across the state.
The first shot came when the Republican supermajority voted down HB 1421 that would've spent $550,000 to reimburse school districts for providing milk at snack time to kids who were eligible for the reduced lunch or free lunch programs. One Republican who voted against the bill said he did so because the federal government paid for that milk before, so if those kids need that milk, the federal government should pay for it again (Rep. David Rust, R-Tioga, The Forum Feb. 5, 2013). This representative, who is a former teacher and school superintendent, has previously complained about the debt and deficit of the federal government but apparently doesn't think our surplus should be spent.
The Republican supermajority isn't completely against helping students, however. Three members of the education committee who voted against HB 1421 (Brenda Heller, R-Beulah, Lisa Meier, R-Bismarck and Karen Rohr, R-Mandan) are also co-sponsors on HB 1466, which would pay for 25 percent of the tuition if you choose to send your child to private school. That bill, if passed, would cost North Dakotans $32 million.
North Dakota residents are helpful people and I'm sure they would agree that giving low-income kids milk is a better use of the state's money than paying for tuition at a private school.
The next came with the defeat of SB 2372 which would've allowed parents or guardians without health insurance to buy into the state's children's health insurance program (CHIP). The bill was given about an hour's worth of consideration before being given a recommendation of "do not pass" to the full Senate, which then defeated the bill. The health and protection of our developing children should be given more consideration than the time it takes to watch American Idol.
With wages stagnant over the last 30 years and the explosive increase in health insurance costs and prices of everyday needs, many parents have their hands tied as to how to provide essentials for their children. Meanwhile, the Republican supermajority will continue to use their hands to pat the backs of the out-of-state oil companies, to shake the hands of their friends at the country club with kids in private school, and to push lower income children to the back of the line.