Our View: No need to hurt helpful state medical schoolThe University of North Dakota Medical School is not something to be taken for granted.
The University of North Dakota Medical School is not something to be taken for granted.
Our state medical school is the envy of South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and other small states. With a growing shortage of physicians and the difficulty hospitals have recruiting them to small communities, why anyone would want to do anything to jeopardize the medical school is puzzling.
North Dakotans are more inclined to appreciate the quality of life in our state, and recruiting and retaining natives from the medical school is easier than recruiting doctors from elsewhere. More than half of primary care doctors practicing in the state graduated from UND or did residency training in the state.
Still, House Concurrent Resolution 3007, if passed by the Legislature, could result in reduced funding for the school. Should the resolution pass, voters would decide a mill levy that supports the school funding during the 2014 general election. A “yes” vote would end the levy, which provided about $2.5 million for the medical school in 2012.
Joshua Wynne, vice president of health affairs at UND and dean of the School of Health Sciences, projects the mill levy to provide $5.5 million in the upcoming biennium and $6 million for the 2015-17 biennium.
The medical school is highly dependent on state financial support to carry out its responsibility in helping the state meet its health care needs. The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Wes Belter, R-Fargo, told the House Judiciary Committee he has no problems with the medical school, he just wants to put the question before North Dakota voters at a time when taxpayers are calling on the Legislature to provide more property tax relief.
We understand the pressure legislators are under to give property relief in a state with a flush surplus, but turning over the responsibility of the mill levy to the voters when no one is specifically calling for ending the levy doesn’t make sense. Removing the funding could result in an increase in fees for students and reduce the number who can afford to attend.
Though Measure 2 to eliminate all property taxes was defeated last year, voters want reduced taxes. Still, rather than piecemealing one levy at a time and passing the responsibility on to the voters, the Legislature should come up with a big picture solution that provides real tax relief.
Start by voting no on House Concurrent Resolution 3007.
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