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Published April 20, 2009, 07:22 AM

Letter to the editor: Invest more into North Dakota infrastructure

We have all heard how the year 2009 will be one to remember and how it is setting records. The year started out with record temperatures, record snowfall, record flooding and now, let us not forget, record road destruction. This year the state Legislature has to do something to deal with disaster assistance in addition to its normal duties. The snow will melt and floodwaters will pass but the devastation on our roads will be a sore reminder of maintenance costs that need to be addressed.

By: Rep. Kenton Onstad, Parshall, N.D., The Jamestown Sun

We have all heard how the year 2009 will be one to remember and how it is setting records. The year started out with record temperatures, record snowfall, record flooding and now, let us not forget, record road destruction. This year the state Legislature has to do something to deal with disaster assistance in addition to its normal duties. The snow will melt and floodwaters will pass but the devastation on our roads will be a sore reminder of maintenance costs that need to be addressed.

People are very concerned about their property taxes. In 2009, the best property tax relief the Legislature can provide is to invest in county and township roads, city streets and our state highway system. The executive recommendation of $120 million for the Department of Transportation was well received. The $170 million federal stimulus money for the state and federal highway system was a windfall we can’t turn down. When added together, it still does not come close to the $500 million needed to just maintain our current infrastructure. Now add snow removal and flood waters to the list. We, as Legislators, need to ask the question, should we provide $100 million in income and corporate tax relief, or should we put that $100 million into local roads, highways and bridges?

North Dakota needs roads to bring our products to market, highways to move our people and goods and bridges to cross those swelled waters. States with good roads are seen as a step ahead in economic development. If the state of North Dakota does not make this investment, not only will the problem remain, it will become even more expensive to remedy. The costs will undoubtedly increase and so will our property tax. Let’s make the necessary investment in our townships, cities and counties and join 2009 as one for the record book in taking care of our citizens by taking care of our infrastructure.

Rep. Kenton Onstad

Parshall, N.D.

(Onstad, a Democrat, represents District 4 in the North Dakota Legislature)

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