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Trio advise 'no' vote on Measures 1 and 2

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and the leaders of two prominent North Dakota organizations are urging state voters to oppose Measure 1 and Measure 2 in the Nov.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker and the leaders of two prominent North Dakota organizations are urging state voters to oppose Measure 1 and Measure 2 in the Nov. 4 election.

Walaker appeared with North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives Executive Vice President Dennis Hill and North Dakota Farmers Union President Robert Carlson at a new conference Monday in Fargo.

Though superficially attractive, the measures have serious flaws that should concern urban and rural voters, Carlson, Walaker and Hill said.

Measure 1 would establish a permanent oil tax trust fund from oil and gas revenues.

Measure 2 would reduce income tax rates for corporations by 15 percent and by

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50 percent for most individuals.

If passed, the income tax reductions would reduce revenue to the state general fund by an estimated $414.2 million in the 2009-11 biennium, according to an analysis by state tax officials.

Losing that money would cripple efforts to reduce property taxes, which is a bigger concern for taxpayers in the state, Carlson said.

"We will kiss goodbye any chance of real property tax reform," he said. Hill and Walaker also said property taxes are a bigger concern than state income taxes.

"Most North Dakotans pay much more in property taxes than income taxes," Hill said.

Dustin Gawrylow of Americans for Prosperity-North Dakota, the group pushing the income tax cuts, said opponents have resorted to "scare tactics and fear-mongering."

Measure 1 would reduce the state's financial flexibility, Hill, Carlson and Walaker said. The measure doesn't allow state elected officials "to do what they are elected to do - manage the state resources for the benefit of the entire state," Walaker said.

Carlson said the measure would lock up investment capital needed to keep the state's economy growing.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Jonathan Knutson at (701) 241-5530

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