Anyone who has read any news out of Helena in the last month will tell you that this legislative session is all about the budget. Coal, oil, and gas prices have been slipping and it’s clear that the bust has finally come to the Bakken. For states like Montana, that rely heavily on tax revenue from natural resource industries, state budgets are in a crunch. Surrounding energy producing states, like Wyoming and North Dakota, are experiencing major budget shortfalls.
However, Montana still has money set aside, putting us well ahead of our neighbors in terms of fiscal stability. Why is this? Oh, a little thing called the rainy-day fund that Governor Bullock worked hard to protect from the hands of the GOP and their attempts to give handouts to poor millionaires.
Nonetheless, everyone agrees that it is time to reassess the funding levels for Montana’s agencies, programs, and elected branches. Well everyone except for the GOP Majority. During a time when the GOP has cut the DPHHS budget by $93 million, on the backs of our state’s seniors, children, and most vulnerable, they decided it’s time for an undeserved pay raise. Most of the Republicans just vote NO and complain, they should be giving the taxpayers refunds, not demanding more.
The first bill dropped on Governor Bullock’s desk during this session was HB 1, the Feed Bill (more like pig feed), which funds the Montana Legislative Session. The GOP legislators continue to sadistically slash the state budget yet they somehow found a way to give themselves a nice 14% budget increase. Imagine that.
Governor Bullock wisely vetoed the spending increase, which is ten times the inflationary state budget increase he proposed of 1.4%, saving the state $1.3 million. While Montana Democrats stood beside working Montanans, GOP legislators balked at accepting the same increase as the rest of the state because, well, they think they are just so damn important. Talk about a swamp that needs to be drained.
Good thing we have a Governor who knows real Montana and expects everyone, including those “High and Mighty” GOP state legislators, to play by the same rules and pay their fair share. Maybe it’s time to turn off the Capitol dome lights again and prove which party is more serious about fiscal responsibility.