New jobs key as students square off
In a chicken-or-the-egg debate over job creation, students on both sides of ballot Measure 3 traded barbs Tuesday at North Dakota State University. If approved by voters Nov. 5, Measure 3 would grant up to $5,000 in tax credits and $5,000 in tuit...
In a chicken-or-the-egg debate over job creation, students on both sides of ballot Measure 3 traded barbs Tuesday at North Dakota State University.
If approved by voters Nov. 5, Measure 3 would grant up to $5,000 in tax credits and $5,000 in tuition repayments to North Dakotans in their 20s.
The Youth Initiative's tax and tuition breaks won't create jobs in North Dakota, opponents said Tuesday.
"Job creation is the only thing that's going to keep people here," said James Klein, a junior. "No matter how many incentive programs (are offered), if they don't have a job, they can't afford to stay here."
The purpose of Measure 3 isn't to create jobs, but rather "to supplement current economic development practices and to provide incentives for students to come to the state," said junior Josh Johnson, vice chairman of the student senate.
In what was billed as a student debate, Swanson was joined by Paul Meyers, vice president of the Fargo School Board and a House District 45 candidate, and Blake Miller of Fargo, candidate for House District 41.
Five NDSU students filled the opposition table, including senior Christopher Haman, lobbyist for the North Dakota Student Association, which has taken a stance against the measure.
The tax credits offered as part of Measure 3 won't matter when, on average, North Dakota workers make $15,000 less per year than their Minnesota counterparts, opponents said, citing U.S. census figures.
Klein also asked how supporters proposed to cover the $55 million price tag set by the state Legislative Council.
Lawmakers could draw the funding from a variety of sources, such as Bank of North Dakota student loan revenue, and not just from social service and education programs as opponents have suggested, Meyers said.
North Dakota loses $160 million per year from people leaving the state, Swanson said. He and other supporters repeatedly challenged the opposition to submit its own plan to reverse out-migration.
"I don't have a comprehensive plan," answered Brandon Provolt, a senior electrical engineering major. "But what I can tell you is what's going to keep me here is a job."
North Dakotans are already competing for jobs, and unemployment could "skyrocket" if the youth initiative passes, junior Amy Richter said.
Miller disagreed, saying the unemployment rate "is so low that it hinders other companies from coming here and looking at relocating here unless they're paying low wages."
North Dakota had the third lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the nation in September, at 3.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
About 20 students were present at the start of the 1½-hour debate in the NDSU Memorial Union. An hour later, nearly 100 students had formed a half-circle to listen.
Afterward, Colin Eide, a junior from West Fargo, said the job creation issue caught his attention the most.
"Do you want people to stay and then we'll attract better businesses, or do you want to keep having people leave and try other ways to attract businesses to come in?" he said. "Either way, it's going to end up costing the state a lot of money."
The youth initiative has the potential for greatness or failure, said Eric Yantzer, a senior from Mandan, N.D.
"I'm in favor of something," he said. "This probably isn't a long-term solution, but it's a step in the right direction."
But the incentives will be ineffective without jobs to support them, said Amber Ahl, a pre-veterinary major from New Ulm, Minn.
"I would really love to stay in North Dakota. I like it better than Minnesota," she said. "But I go where the money is and I go where the job is."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528