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Dems want youth-based economic development

By Dave Thompson

Bismarck, ND – The North Dakota Democratic Party is working on an initiated measure to help keep young people from leaving the state.

Party executive director Vern Thompson says Democrats believe the Legislature did little to tackle the problem of outmigration. And he says people are concerned that North Dakota is losing its best and brightest.

Thompson says the Democratic Policy Committee decided to explore an initiated measure for the November ballot, that would give some incentives to help young people stay in North Dakota.

"A couple of the details that were talked about were a type of a student loan forgiveness, and the other one was a type of an income tax forgiveness from the state income tax if they stay in the state for certain lengths of time."

But Governor Hoeven says his administration -- and the Republican legislature -- have taken a number of steps to encourage young people to stay in North Dakota.

Hoeven says the Legislature approved several proposals last year to improve the state's job climate -- and to attract people to move to North Dakota.

"And I think if you look at the whole agenda that was put through that legislature, you're going to see a very strong focus on working to help build and diversify this economy and create the kind of opportunities that will keep folks here, and help draw them. And I think anyone that looks at that, including all the citizens of North Dakota -- if they really sit down and take a look at that, I think it's what they want in terms of the direction for this state."

Hoeven says he hasn't yet taken a look at what the Democrats are talking about. But he says its impact on the state budget will have to be considered.