Yesterday was a dark day in the Montana capitol. Folks from across Montana lined up across hearing rooms and overflow rooms to beg for their lives and well-being.
It was a harrowing thing to see. For more than two hours, Montanans testified on behalf of the disabled and the poorest of our citizens. Asking the legislature not to go through with proposed 10 percent cuts to services.
It was a sad state of affairs. But it is the logical conclusion to a game of brinkmanship Speaker Austin Knudsen and the GOP legislators have been playing for years.
Montana’s constitution requires a balanced budget, so if you refuse to raise revenues and use overly ambitious revenue estimates you will force the state down a path of draconian cuts.
This is exactly the path GOP controlled legislature has placed us on. By refusing to come to the table and deal they have sent us down this path of despair.
Now we are seeing what 10 percent cuts actually look like. It looks like families fearing for their lives. It looks like mothers testifying that if these cuts go through they won’t know what to do. It looks like a state fundamentally unable to take care of the disabled in their communities.
All of this, to avoid a tax on tobacco? Montana is better than this.
The Interim Committee voted to delay these cuts for 6 months. But the fear and anxiety for these families won’t be delayed. It will continue to be a crippling force in their daily lives.
The GOP lead legislature needs to take a hard look in the mirror and ask themselves: is this really the Montana they want?
Their actions say yes.