North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan's office released a fact sheet today detailing what the recently passed stimulus will mean for the state. Below are the some of the highlights and my commentary.
- 8,000 Jobs Saved or Added
- A Combined $145.9M for Public and Higher Education
North Dakota has suffered from TMATP Syndrome (**) for a long time. Despite decreasing enrollment in public schools, education has seen enormous increases in spending over the years. On top of that, budget increases in higher education is out of control despite ever-soaring tuition spawning calls for the state legislature to set tuition rates, rather than leaving it to the university system.
- $24.5M for Energy
Undoubtedly the energy we're talking about is corn-based ethanol and wind power. Despite the fact that corn-based ethanol is not nearly as efficient or cheap as ethanol based on, say, switchgrass. The truth is, corn based ethanol only competes with plain old unleaded in North Dakota because tax payers are already subsidizing it to make it cheap. Now taxpayers all over the country get to help out. Thanks, rest of America.
- $25.8M for the Weatherization Assistance Program
Wait, what? I don't know what this is, as the governor's fact sheet doesn't mention beyond the big chunk of change we're getting for it. I found this explanation at the Department of Energy website. I think this is actually good if it will reduce the ever-rising cost of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
- $2.6B in aid to Native Americans
Just some honest questions here. How much money does the Native American population in North Dakota as a whole have at their disposal from casinos? I realize there are separate tribes and everything. I just have no idea how these finances get used. Also, is budgeting money to give to soverign nations like, say, the Lakota, the same as giving money to Poland? I honestly don't know how this works. Anybody know?
- $32M for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
The rest of the entry reads (formerly Food Stamps). Love that they've come up with an unnecessary and overly long replacement name. Plus, I can imagine this exchange:
Person A: "Are you on food stamps?"
Person B: "No, I'm on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program"
Person A: "Oh, SNAP!"
I kill me.
- $163,398 for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program
Just wanted to point how small this number is compared to everything else.
There's also some tax credits in there and some protection for about 29,000 North Dakotans from the Alternative Minimum Tax. I may be one of those (at least I hope so). I wish the federal government would just get rid of that thing instead of amending it every year after public outcry. At least set it to a reasonable amount for 2010 and then tie it to inflation.
Anyway, if you read this whole thing, congratulations! You were either brain damaged when you started or you've been made so during the journey. If you still retain the ability to type, let me know what you think about the stimulus.___________________________________________________________
(*) I'm remembering The Winery, a local business, which was being forced to close recently because of a law that forced a certain percentage of the grapes used in the wine to be from local sources. Surprisingly, North Dakota is not known for its grape production. The law was amended in time to save the business, thankfully, but it's this type of thoughtless regulation that kills businesses.
(**) TMATP Syndrome (n.) Throw Money At The Problem. Pronounced "Tee-mat-pee".