Here’s what you need to know today in Montana politics.
What are they afraid of?
The Utah Catholic Conference and Utah’s Catholic bishops have been strong and vocal supporters of expanding Medicaid in Utah for years.
The Most Reverend, Bishop of Salt Lake City John C. Wester, head of Utah’s 300,000 Catholics has chastised state legislators in his state. He’s asked why in “a state that proudly proclaims its pro-life beliefs,” the lawmakers are “frittering away” the chance to expand Medicaid.
“Right now an opportunity to protect the dignity and sanctity of human life in Utah is being squandered by legislators who refuse to act in a morally responsible manner,” the Rev. John C. Wester wrote in the Intermountain Catholic, a weekly newspaper published by the Salt Lake Diocese. “Utah cannot proclaim itself a pro-life state so long as it refuses to provide access to basic health care coverage to a significant portion of its citizens.”
Yet Montana’s Catholic Diocese has done nothing to help Montanans in need except put out this statement in an email. They have not spoken to the press, they have not spoken in hearings. Perhaps they should listen to Utah’s Bishop:
“While it may make us uncomfortable at times, we are required to speak in the public square and be a voice for the poor, the marginalized and the voiceless. Tens of thousands of Utahns will be impacted by the health care debate…I choose to support the Healthy Utah plan.”–Bishop John C. Wester of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake
The Helena Diocese has what only the most charitable would call a major image problem. You would think they would be eager to start discussing something people actually like about Catholics–concern for the poor. Instead, I’m sure their lobbyist is up at the capitol trying to gut funding for birth control. Because if there’s one thing poor families need it’s having children before they can afford to – right?
2Legit Episode 8 is Out
It’s Time to Stop Making Citizens Pay the Oil and Gas Industry’s Share
If you’ve been following the Montana legislature, you know there are needs across our state and especially in eastern Montana that should be receiving something in return for the big bucks out-of-state oil and gas companies get when they take out finite resources and ruin our roads and pastures.
That’s where Sen. Christine Kaufmann’s SB 374 comes in. Her op ed in the Great Falls Tribune includes some great comparisons about what the money could have done for Montana if we hadn’t given it away to multi-national companies.
The tax breaks to oil companies in 2014 alone could have instead funded any one of the following:
• Over a third of the projected costs for maintaining roads in eastern Montana as a result of increased traffic from heavy equipment in the area.
• The critical services provided to victims of domestic violence and their families through the 22 shelters in Montana for six years.
• The state’s costs in addressing disaster and emergency services for 20 years.
• The state’s budget for veteran services and their families for 15 years; or
• Three-fourths of the annual state budget for the Montana Highway Patrol.
The revenue Montana lost between 2008 and 2014 could have supported seven years of Early Edge, an investment to ensure Montana’s children enter kindergarten ready to learn.
You can learn more about the oil and gas giveaways here, from the Montana Budget and Policy Center’s latest report.