In recent times we’ve seen Republicans fall into a circular firing squad.
When Schweitzer was meeting with the Republican leaders last session, they told him that Rick Hill had made a mess of the Work Comp system when he was in charge of it during the 1990s. Threw him under the bus. Neil Livingstone made the same point about Hill a few weeks ago, and Ken Miller has taken on Hill for having spent most of the last twenty years in Palm Desert, California, rather than Montana. And of course Corey Stapleton’s campaign has already chimed in with the insinuation that Hill has “too many Skeletons in the closet” to become Governor.
Yesterday it continued. State Senator Dave Lewis, a regular Cowgirl blog commenter, admitted that Montana’s current Pension woes, which Schweitzer is now trying to fix, are due largely to his own bill, HB 294, which he carried in 2001 on behalf of Judy Martz and her chief economic policy guru, Rick Hill. This bill, ordered by the Martz administration as a supposed long-term solution to avoiding an insolvent state pension fund, gave automatic increases (3% a year), to state workers. It assumed that the stock market would go up forever.
Lewis gave an interview in which he said that “in forty years of government, HB 294 was the worst mistake I ever made.” Some kudos to Dave Lewis for his honesty; this type of confession is rarely heard in politics.
The more important point is that Lewis’s statement closes the book on a very substantial inquiry as to the ineptitude of the Judy Martz administration. We now have a confession entered into the record, conclusive proof that the Republican administrations of the last 20 years fucked things up, and Schweitzer has had to spend seven years trying to repair the damage.