RUSH: The pre-election polls in North Dakota were right on the money. The property tax repeal went down by a three-to-one margin. (interruption) You didn't know that, Snerdley? "North Dakota voters rejected proposals to institute religious freedom law and repeal all property taxes during [yesterday]'s primary election. The defeats are a blow to conservative leaders," it says here, "who had hoped North Dakota would become the first state to repeal property taxes and the 28th to implement a religious freedom law.
"Both proposals attracted strong opposition from moderate and progressive groups statewide, with fears that the religious freedom proposal could legalize child abuse, domestic violence, ritual animal sacrifice and the marriage of 12-year-old girls." What in the name of Sam Hill? What? "Moderate and progressive groups" successfully made people think "that the religious freedom proposal could legalize child abuse, domestic violence, ritual animal sacrifice and the marriage of 12-year-old girls.
"With 62% of the returns counted" when this story was published, Measure 2, the property tax repeal, "was being defeated 78% to 22%. The margins remained roughly the same through the counting." I have some additional numbers on the North Dakota situation. Remember that the state is flush with revenue because of the oil boom that's taking place. In addition to the sales tax revenue that was up 86% from two years ago because of the boom... They didn't raise the sales tax rate. There's just been that much more commerce going on.
Sales tax revenue was up 86%.
In addition to that money, they had $3 billion in revenue from taxes on oil and natural gas production in the current and next fiscal years. And $5 billion in surplus state funds at the end of the latest fiscal year. In North Dakota, that is huge money: A $57 billion surplus. A lot of this, sad to say, was unexpected. And I say "sad to say" because economic activity ought to be understood. If you're in the middle of an economic boom, an oil boom, it ought to be understood that your revenues are gonna go through the roof.
Anyway, with a $5 billion surplus in state funds plus $3 billion in expected revenue from taxes on oil and natural gas in the next two years, that's why there was a movement. They said, "Okay, let's get rid of the property tax. The state has enough money and it's going to have enough money." But the unions (and even some conservatives) feared that this couldn't last and the state might run off money and it would just come back to bite 'em. They didn't want the possibility of the state running out of money. So they voted to keep their property taxes intact.
And it's a lesson.
(interruption) Snerdley is inquiring of me as to what I think the State of North Dakota will do with the extra money. Well, what is the State of North Dakota? It's a government. What does government do? Government spends money. (interruption) I don't know. (interruption) What would I do if I was running the state and I had this kind of a surplus? The first thing I would do is hide it from the federal government. The next thing I would do is make sure that people like Jesse Jackson can't get to it. And then the next thing I'd do is make sure that Al Sharpton couldn't find his way to the money.
Since you asked, if I was governor of North Dakota I would move to repeal some taxes. I'd want the boom to continue. I'd want to keep as much money in the pockets of my citizens as I could. I'd figure out what it takes to run the state, keep a little for rainy day, and give the rest back. Realizing that it was never my money in the first place. Realizing it was never the state's money in the first place. But that's just me, and I am but a lowly talk show host, a mere pawn in the game of life.