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Legislative Report District 13: Tax Freedom Day, good news to report

North Dakotans can celebrate. That time of the year has come when we've graduated from "working for the government" to working for ourselves and our families.

Several years ago, various groups began calculating how long it actually takes, each year, for people to earn enough of their income to pay federal, state, and local taxes. Of course, this varies state-by-state and, to some degree, community by community.

Based upon average calculations for North Dakota, according to the Tax Foundation, the magic day arrived this year, on April 3. Some may be thankful it wasn't April Fool's Day (April 1), just to be sure, when they go to work each day, that they can really now begin enjoying the fruits of their own labor.

As people throughout our state and nation make their discontent with high taxes and irresponsible government growth and spending very clear, it is interesting to ponder the arrival of "Tax Freedom Day."

We're not ranked the best. In fact, 11 states rank higher, including our sister state to the South.

For North Dakota, however, there is good news in the report. Our state ranks better than Montana and considerably better than our neighbors, across the river, in Minnesota.

Although it may not seem positive, when one ponders how long ago the first of the year really was, we in North Dakota "only" pay an average of ¼ of our income in taxes. Yes, I said "only," because residents of some states must work nearly a month longer, just to pay for their various levels of government, before they can begin paying their own bills.

In Connecticut, for example, citizens work, on average, until April 27, just to pay the tax collector. That's 117 days out of 365, and nearly 1/3 of their income.

What's worse, of course, is the virtually incalculable, quickly-growing level of unpaid debt hanging over each American taxpayer's head, even after our taxes are paid. In North Dakota, our constitution requires a balanced budget, but for most in Washington, balanced budgets are but a distant, quaint memory.

The burgeoning level of the federal debt looms larger every year. With the unbridled growth of the federal government and the seemingly insatiable spending appetite of some, it forces Americans to warily ponder whether their children and grandchildren will actually live in the country they've known - the greatest, freest nation on earth. Only time will tell, but many believe it's not too late to turn the corner. I share that hopeful outlook.

Here in North Dakota, where we've reduced taxes, we must continue to do our part to be fiscally responsible and continue to build a strong, robust economy, while letting our concerns be known, on the federal level. That will bode well for the future of our state which, so far, has been one of the few to weather the bleak, national economic storms.