Dear Governor Doug Burgum

PHOTO COURTESY | WIKI COMMONS
Gov. Doug Burgum’s proposed plan would mean that in the last four years, higher education’s budget has been cut by a third.

Hello, I am Erik Jonasson II; I am a mechanical engineering major, graduating from North Dakota State next spring, in 2019. I am exactly what Doug Burgum has pointed to as an employee he wants to maintain in this state.

Here is why I won’t be staying around, Gov. Burgum.

North Dakota is a rarity in the Midwest. North Dakota has been reaping the success of a very successful oil boom. A boom in population has subsequently occurred making North Dakota a location for risky moneymakers but also a nice side effect happened; education was given a good priority.

When I came to NDSU in 2014, the campus was thriving. In my time here on campus major remodels have happened including an 11 million dollar renovation of Churchill Hall and the building of a new science technology engineering and mathematics building. These are all major changes.

As noted in my article, Protecting People: North Dakota’s Budget Cuts, I told the story of research assistants, lab technicians, researchers and students who have been personally affected by the budget cuts.

Research is what sets the United States apart. It is how we became a global superpower. This position in the world was built on innovating technology and the support of tomorrow’s greatest minds. This comes from research students and great professors.

Gov. Burgum’s plan ignores that. We can’t attract the greatest professors to underfunded universities, we for sure can’t produce the greatest minds in undergraduates and graduate students from temporary professors who are overworked, underpaid and given no benefits or incentives to actually stay here.

There are research students here on campus that can’t afford rent on their stipends. Students are graduating with debt and even with that choosing to go elsewhere, more expensive elsewhere, why?

We don’t want lower taxes at the expense of this; we are fine paying more in taxes if that means a better life for some of the hardest workers in the state and the country.

Valuable research is happening here at NDSU, cancer solutions, material science and important psychology research. More than 100 majors research here, it is hard enough getting grants, now your proposed plan is going to make their task harder.

There are lab technicians who have had their salary go from 100 percent state funded to 75 percent state-funded over the past few years. Costing researchers precious grant money.

International students, who cannot work anywhere in the country besides the university, your plan will make life harder for them.

I, as a “high-tech” employee I would not mind paying for that in taxes. I know we are a red state, for too long though we have allowed the wild wild west to occur in the Bakken. That is why I won’t be staying here; because this state puts business over people.

More taxes, more environmental standards are needed. Get your money from there; don’t take it from students who need it more than multibillion-dollar industries.

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