North Dakota’s economy is experiencing unprecedented growth. We are No. 1 in job creation three years running, and we have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Our wages and personal incomes have grown faster than in any other state. And, our population is increasing for the first time since the 1930s. North Dakota is the envy of the nation.
Measure 2, which proposes to abolish property taxes, puts all of this at risk.
Measure 2 on the June 12 ballot proposes to change North Dakota’s constitution by eliminating property taxes. It’s important to understand the fiscal impact of the proposal and how property taxes are used.
Property taxes are expected to generate $812 million in revenue for 2012, or just more than $1.6 billion within the two-year cycle of the state’s budget. They fund our schools, critical services delivered by counties and cities, and roads and other infrastructure upon which we all rely. In other words, whether you live and work in a city or out in the country, property taxes pay for things that are important to your way of life and the work that you do.
The risk that Measure 2 poses to North Dakota’s booming economy and our way of life boils down to one word: uncertainty.
Schools, counties, cities, townships and park districts will face the uncertainty of not knowing how they will be able to deliver the services expected from them, or pay for the projects to which they have committed, without a stable source of revenue.
Taxpayers, individuals and businesses will face the uncertainty created by Measure 2 because it proposes to shift the burden to other taxes such as sales, income, and oil and gas taxes. Businesses thrive in a stable and predictable environment. Uncertainty is not good for business.
The uncertainty that results from Measure 2 for our schools, communities and businesses leads me back to the beginning. We are enjoying good times — more jobs, rising wages, population increases and growing communities. Measure 2 puts all of this at risk.
On June 12, voters will decide the course of North Dakota. Will we continue to be the envy of the nation or fall behind? This is the most important question North Dakota voters will answer this election year.
Cory Fong, North Dakota State Tax Commissioner, Bismarck