North Dakota’s gubernatorial election is 11 months away, but that hasn’t kept candidate Rick Becker of Bismarck from campaigning.
The Republican state representative and plastic surgeon is one of the two confirmed candidates running for North Dakota governor thus far.
He visited North Dakota State on Thursday to partake in a meet-and-greet event put on by the Young Americans for Liberty.
Hailing from Mandan, N.D., Becker has lived his whole life in-state, aside from a stint where he left the state to practice plastic surgery.
Becker said he attributes the origin of his interest in politics to being a business man in 1997 and seeing how well the government was doing on a state and national level at the time.
The reason Becker decided to get involved was because he noticed the state was having spending increases.
“I wanted to get involved and make a change,” he said.
Becker completely ruled out the possibility of having fully state-funded college education, saying it was the “worst idea in the world.”
He said he reasons it would put all private institutions out of business and that it would devalue a college degree.
“The idea that you’re going to pay a high tuition and pay interest on student loans and … go through a system that only spits you out after six years when it should in four years; that’s the travesty,” he said.
“I don’t believe that the tuition hikes, and the increased amount of money that the state is paying to the universities, is translating into anything for value for the students,” Becker said. “Costs should come way down, tuition should come down, and that’s where students should be saving money.”
Elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014 to the state legislature, Becker said he liked being a representative. The job was challenging, but he wanted to make state spending more frugal and sweeping.
“There’s not a different plan for a section of the population. … For instance, I don’t believe in women’s rights, gay rights, students’ rights, so-and-so rights. It doesn’t matter,” he said. “They’re all the same. … We’re all equally treated. There should be a very low income tax for everyone.”
Becker decided to run for two reasons: the first being current governor Jack Dalrymple’s decision not to run. The second reason is because of taxes and spending.
When asked about a tax plan for students, Becker said instead of having a certain tax plan for different levels of income, a low and flat income tax for everyone would be better.
“If I make 10 times more money, I should pay 10 times more money,” Becker said, adding, “The key is to make it low. I want a very, very low rate, and, in fact, I prefer a zero rate, when we’ve got oil money. That’s what we should be aiming for.
“Now, again, this is a difficult time to try and propose that, so what I’d like to propose is just that we flatten it, and we keep it low.”
Oilfields in North Dakota are “a golden goose,” Becker said, as the Bakken region brings in a large amount of tax revenue to the state.
He said taxing the oil fields is not a good idea, for it is expensive to drill oil in North Dakota. If oil companies were to be met with heavy taxes, they could just leave, Becker said.
He also added property tax reforms should take place. If someone was to own a piece of property, they shouldn’t have to pay tax on it indefinitely.
As for sales tax, Becker said, “It is what it is.”
Becker is in favor of a pathway to legalizing marijuana, adding that step one in the legalization process would be to decriminalize or decrease the penalties for marijuana related crimes.
“I view marijuana as a victimless crime and as such am not in favor of the state criminalizing victimless activities,” he said.
Election Day is Nov. 8, 2016.