Big education wants dirty air and water.
Education groups join push against ND outdoor fund; petitions delivered Monday would put proposal on November ballot
By Helmut Schmidt Today at 7:53 p.m.
BISMARCK – If petitions delivered to state officials Monday check out, North Dakota voters will vote this fall on a politically divisive proposal to set aside some oil-tax money to protect natural areas and wildlife.
Members of North Dakotans for Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks delivered petitions with more than 41,000 signatures Monday to the Secretary of State’s Office, petitions seeking to put a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the Nov. 4 ballot. Backers needed 26,904 signatures.
The petitions still need to be validated. The deadline for verification in Sept. 8.
The proposed Clean Water, Wildlife and Parks Amendment would set aside 5 percent of the state’s oil extraction tax revenues for outdoor needs, starting in the next biennium.
“We have a unique opportunity to invest a small portion of the funds the oil industry is already paying to our state, without raising taxes, to protect the things that make North Dakota, North Dakota,” said Steve Adair, director of Ducks Unlimited – Great Plains Region, who is chairman of the committee sponsoring the measure.
A widespread coalition is opposing the proposed fund, including business and agricultural groups.
At least two statewide education groups are also against the proposal: the North Dakota Council of Education Leaders and the North Dakota School Boards Association.
However, North Dakota United, which represents most of the state’s teachers and many state, county and local municipal employees, is neutral on the issue, that group’s president said.