N.D. lawmaker wants every newborn to get $5,000

A bill in North Dakota that would give each newborn $5,000 is dead in its present form.

Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, came up with the idea that would have required the state-owned Bank of North Dakota to create a $5,000 account for each newborn of state residents, the Fargo Forum reports. The money could be used later in life to attend a state college, start a business, farm or buy a house, or pay for nursing home care.

But at a hearing yesterday, the bill was rewritten to make it a “study”.

The former teacher said the idea sprang from discussions with students in his automotive technology class who chose career paths that didn’t include college and couldn’t take advantage of the state’s scholarship programs.

Larsen said everyone should have access to financial means when they reach 18 to pursue their goals, whether it be attending in-state college or career and technical training, launching a small business or putting money down on a starter home.

“Doesn’t free money just increase the cost to everybody?” asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Craig Headland, R-Montpelier.

Larsen said that unlike the direct payments Alaska residents receive from their state’s oil wealth trust fund, the North Dakota money wouldn’t be “free,” as students would have to work to obtain their high school diploma or GED or start a business. He also noted the state bank’s College SAVE program already makes $100 available to every North Dakota newborn, which he said could be rolled into his proposal.

Larsen said the $5,000 head start could balloon to $20,000 by the time the youngster gets to use it.

“I just think that our human beings, our minds, the North Dakota mind, is an infrastructure that really with a small amount of investment would be priceless,” he said.