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Letter: ND needs to use oil-impact monies to fund teacher pay

For years I have worked in early childhood education. For years my colleagues and I have received a well-below (national) average salary. We were told that North Dakota didn't have the money and that our cost of living was lower here, so we didn't need to be better compensated.

Now North Dakota has more money. Lots more! The last legislative session had $1.6 billion left over after they were done appropriating their spending.

But the Republicans said there wasn't enough money in the state budget to fund vital programs such as early childhood education (HeadStart) or to address the child care crisis (they just let the feds take care of it) or provide deeper property tax relief to both homeowners and renters.

They claimed that they could not meet all the needs to fix crumbling roads and bridges that span from the west to the east. They voted against increasing the minimum teacher salary because of the financial burden it could have put on the state -- these are the people that shape the minds of future generations, and they don't want to make sure they are fairly and adequately compensated? With the cost of living in some areas of North Dakota (mine) greatly increasing, it is vital to adequately fund education, as well as help people who are not profiting from the oil boom.

I believe that when we make education a funding priority in this state, we will achieve greatness. We need state leaders who understand these ideas and can take us into the future of North Dakota.

Sherry Heilmann,