Excerpts from recent North Dakota editorials

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BISMARCK, North Dakota — The Daily News, Wahpeton, Aug. 11, 2014

The second busiest shopping season

Many parents are using the next week or two to purchase back to school supplies for their children.

In this day of technology, shopping for supplies isn't as cheap as it once was. In fact, according to the National Retail Foundation, consumers are expected to spend about $74.9 billion this year to send their children and college students back to school, which is a collective 12 percent more than last year.

What is the most expensive time of year for shoppers? Christmas.

Do you know what is next? Yes. Back to school shopping.

As school budgets become tighter, the cost has shifted from classroom onto families. Smart parents can save money without skimping on necessary supplies for their child.

Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency, offers some tips for cutting costs on back-to-school shopping.

Supply lists often call for scissors, rulers, pencils and other items people already have at home. Parents need to take stock by using what they have instead of buying new supplies.

Stick to the list. Teachers' supply lists have become more extensive and expensive, so Sullivan encourages parents to stick to the list and avoid impulse shopping.

He suggest parents comparison shop, clip coupons, wait until after Labor Day to reap savings, shop or swap secondhand stores for clothes, shop tax-free and include children in their budget for clothing and school supplies. If given a choice, most children will choose to stretch their dollars with sensible purchases instead of blowing the budget on pricey items.

The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, Aug. 8, 2014

N.D.'s changing economic landscape

A recent report indicated unemployment payments to out-of-state workers have been on the rise over the past five years. Since 2008, the number of people living outside North Dakota and claiming benefits has more than doubled, with amounts paid more than tripled.

It's among a number of new trends North Dakota is experiencing on the employment front, largely the result of a burgeoning oil industry. A persistently low unemployment rate in the state has meant employment opportunities for people living beyond the state's borders.

Needing more workers than the state has been able to provide, companies have aggressively recruited nonresidents to fill the employment void. The trade-off is if out-of-state workers are laid off and move, the unemployment benefits they're eligible to receive leave with them.

Unemployment benefits are funded through taxes paid by companies operating in the state, not from individual taxpayers. It can be a considerable expense for businesses, running as high as $594 per week per employee insured. It would be difficult to argue that unemployment benefits paid to nonresidents compromise North Dakota citizens directly, since premiums are covered by employers.

Job Service is funded almost entirely by the federal government. The unemployment insurance program managed within it receives no state funds. State taxes paid through North Dakota personal income returns aren't at work here.

The issue isn't about funding, but about the growing trend that indicates compensation earned by workers — either through paychecks or unemployment insurance payments — is being sent outside of North Dakota. For the 12-month period ending June 2014, nearly 40 percent of unemployment claimants had out-of-state addresses.

While certainly desirable, it isn't realistic to expect that every dollar earned by laborers in the state will be spent here. That's never been the case.

Some who come to North Dakota do make it their new home. Others simply assist in filling the employment void the state is currently experiencing, particularly in the western half of the state.

Nonresident workers will continue to be recruited. And, predictably, they will send some of what they earn back to their families in other states.

The solution, from a state perspective, is to continue to look for ways to encourage out-of-state workers to make North Dakota their permanent residence.

Nonresident workers, like residents of the state, need assurances that quality-of-life issues are effectively addressed, that the cost of living is reasonable and that the amenities the state has to offer remain attractive.

Minot Daily News, Minot, Aug. 12, 2014

Too busy playing politics

The flood of illegal immigrants across the nation's southern border has become a crisis, President Barack Obama insists. He blames conservatives in Congress for not giving him enough money to deal with it.

But ample resources are available, if the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would stop playing political games. Obama will not do that, however, because it would require him to place the blame where it belongs — on Reid.

Members of both houses of Congress had been scheduled to leave Washington Aug. 1, for their annual summer break.

But House of Representatives members stayed behind. House Speaker John Boehner and fellow conservatives recognized the need to act on the immigration crisis.

So, on the night of Aug. 1 they approved a bill providing $694 million in emergency funds that Obama can use to handle tens of thousands of illegal immigrants already here and prevent others from coming into the United States.

Senators already had left the capital, however. And Reid, D-Nev., showed no inclination to bring them back to vote on the House bill.

Either the situation is an emergency or it is not. If it is, Obama should be calling on Reid to call senators back to Washington.

Again, do not expect any White House criticism of Reid, however. He and Obama are too busy using the immigration situation to score political points to actually do anything about it.

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