State Senator Ryan Taylor (DNPL), candidate for governor, visited Valley City Thursday. More than a dozen people had the opportunity to meet the candidate and hear his plans for the future when he visited the AmericInn for a lunchtime town hall meeting.
Taylor, a rancher from the Towner area, explained highlights of his platform to area residents during the event. According to Taylor, even though the oilfields in western North Dakota bring in big tax dollars, agriculture is still the number one source of income in the state, and he acknowledged that the infrastructure in central and eastern North Dakota needed to be repaired or replaced.
“The west seems to overshadow the rest of the state,” he said pointing out that western roads get more attention and money than the remainder of the state.
“Our roads weren’t made for trucks and modern (farm) equipment,” he pointed out.
An ongoing problem Taylor may have to deal with if he becomes governor could be flooding of Devil’s Lake and where the water will ultimately end up down the James River. Taylor acknowledged that a solution is needed, but he didn’t elaborate on how it may be accomplished.
“Water that goes in (to the lake) has to go out.” he said.
The answer may be retention areas to keep water out of Devil’s Lake or it may be changing the structure or routes of it’s tributaries including the Sheyenne River, which goes through the Valley City area.
Ultimately, the answer may come from the suggestions of residents, he added.
While incumbent Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple favored a “no increases” budget, Taylor believes that to not increase the budget during times a time of a budget surplus - especially when it comes to infrastructure, safety, and schools - would be impractical.
“We need to start making investments before the economy changes,” he said pointing out that eventually the state’s oil income will be gone, and agriculture runs in cycles and isn’t always profitable.
Investments in education are among Taylor’s top priorities. According to Taylor, North Dakota is among only 11 states that don’t provide money for building schools. Taylor wants to make money available to schools in the form of a $110 million building fund that would be available to schools in the form of grants or loans that would be awarded for new construction or expansion projects.
Currently, said Taylor, North Dakota ranks 47th in teacher salaries. If he is elected, he pointed out, he wants to make that ranking number 40.
In addition, Taylor wants to make going to college more accessible to students. His proposal would make student loans and grants more available.
According to Taylor, his opponent simply replied, “Too bad,” when told that the average college graduate has more than $27,000 in student loan debt.
Also, one of Taylor’s top concerns is crime.
“Crime,” he said, “is on the rise in North Dakota.”
From 2009 to 2011 North Dakota’s population went up 5.7 percent, but law enforcement personnel went up only 1.7 percent., according to the Taylor campaign. Taylor plans to put at least 143 more law enforcement officers on the street, but to do that will require an increase in the budget. Many of those law enforcement officers are needed in the western part of the state where the population has exploded.
“Those people deserve to be safe in their homes and on their roads too,” said Taylor. “We can’t wait for a crisis and then just throw money at it.”
Taylor will continue to hold town hall meetings until the election, he said.