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North Dakotans could be Paying for Iraq War for 50 Years

March 20, 2008

Mandan, ND – As the Iraq War enters its sixth year, it has cost the National Treasury over a half-trillion dollars, and counting. A budget analysis by the National Priorities Project estimates North Dakota's share of the price tag is $600 million -- and state Senator Tim Mathern says North Dakota could have used that money.

"The match that's provided for our infrastructure of highways and bridges, the match for the healthcare of our citizens and for our rural hospitals, has not kept up. All of those things have not kept up with the needs, and that money has been transferred to Iraq."

He says another cost, yet to be added to the total, is the treatment needs for soldiers returning with a litany of physical and mental problems.

"We are going to build a new veterans' facility to address those needs, so there will be costs out into the future affecting the budget of the state of North Dakota."

Supporters of war funding believe it is a necessary investment in national security. The National Priorities Project estimates war costs by state based on the amount of tax dollars each state contributes to the federal budget. Its latest report, at www.nationalpriorities.org, also notes the proposed 2009 federal budget includes cuts to more than 100 programs that are used by states to provide housing, community development funding, utility cost assistance for low-income families, and more.

Dick Layman/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - ND