Tag Archives: Mike Milburn

No Love

In an email to supporters on September 9th, in which he talked about “starting to feel the chill of fall in the air” and questioned “Where did summer go?,” former Congressman Rick Hill said “In the coming weeks you’ll see my campaign name a running mate.” The entire email is posted below the fold.

That was over ten weeks ago.

Where’s the Lt. Gov?  What’s the problem?

Cowgirl tipsters say that Hill’s having trouble getting someone to agree to be his #2.  Word on the street is that Yellowstone County Commissioner John Ostlund met with former Congressman Hill and rumor has it turned him down.  The gossip also says Hill supposedly had similar conversations with many state legislators, including: Sens. Jon Sonju and Bruce Tutvedt, Speaker Mike Milburn and Rep. Scott Reichner.

There could be several reasons why he’s running into problems.   It’s possible that Congressman Rehberg and his team, who are lined up behind another candidate, stopping potential candidates from signing on.  It could also be that no one wants to jump on with a candidate with a sordid history of political scandals and high unfavorability ratings.  The lack of an LG could mean that the party establishment and state legislators beginning to agree that this guy is unelectable, or that they know of another scandal about to drop that the rest of us don’t know about.

Regardless, it’s clear Hill wishes he had someone–anyone by now.

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New Analysis: GOP Ginned Up Fake Budget Crisis to Undercut Jobs, Schools

Republican legislators conspired to gin up a fake budget crisis to undercut jobs, public school classrooms, and seniors.   A new analysis by Tax Analyst [pdf], out this week, spells out the whole debacle in detail.   Here’s what went down.

Exactly one month before the 2010 election, the GOP legislature’s economic forecaster predicted a $400 million dollar budget deficit.

Even though Governor Schweitzer and his budget director explained why the prediction was inaccurate, the GOP refrain “$400 million dollar budget deficit” was parroted by the media.  Recall that the Billings Gazette sent out a questionnaire to every candidate asking what cuts they will propose to the budget to make up for the supposed $400 dollar deficit?

Legislative fiscal analysts predict that by June 30, 2013, there will be a $366 million state budget deficit with no money in reserve. How specifically would you balance the budget? What specific government services are you prepared to cut, by millions of dollars if necessary, and which government services would you preserve?

Then, by repeatedly feeding the “we’re bankrupt” lie to the electorate, TEA Party republicans rode the wave of fear and paranoia into state legislative office, claiming they were needed to help combat the supposed budget crisis.

The Governor again called it a fantasy, but the fraud continued. The legislature claimed that the drastic cuts they made to those hardest hit by the recession (seniors, veterans, school children and the disabled) were made necessary by a $400 million dollar deficit that wasn’t real.

As soon as the legislative session was over, the legislative staff admitted that their numbers were (badly) off.  They claimed to be “surprised” by how wrong they had been, the Tax Analyst analysis explains.  State Senator Ron Erickson (D) gave a scathing response, saying he and other Dems weren’t surprised, as the Governor had been saying that the deficit prediction was wrong from the beginning.

Montana has $300-400 million dollars left in the bank that could have been used to create jobs, to help the needy and to make sure school kids have a bright future.   Now, GOP gubernatorial candidates are trying to continue the deception to bring about their own elections.  They, too, will claim a spending crisis and the need for immediate budget cuts.  This time, however, the GOP’s record of deceiving the public for political gain will stand in their way.

Fuzzy Math

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish–Dr. Seuss 1965

The Montana Legislature, we now learn, was using strange counting methods and fuzzy math, from day one.

The chief forecaster for how much money the state should expect to have in its coffers on a quarterly basis is Terry Johnson, who reports to legislative leadership.  He and Schweitzer butted heads throughout the last four sessions session, because Schweitzer was evidently crunching the numbers and thought that there was more money available than was being estimated by Johnson, who takes marching orders from his bosses Jim Peterson (R-Buffalo) and Mike Milburn (R-Cascade).  As a result, as in states like Wisconsin, Florida and other places where the Tea Party as created a false premise panic about a lack of funds, the Republicans in the 2011 session were able to justify across the board cuts. Cuts in education, cuts in assistance to poor, and the denying hard working state employees a 1% pay raise they were slated to receive after years of going without.

In fact, the board of regents has announced that tuition at the University system must now be raised because of the Republican legislature’s cutting of funding for higher Ed.

Yesterday, I saw a mailing from the Policy Institute, a group run by Pat Williams, Ken Toole and other progressives, discussing the importance of standing up for what you value.  The mailing attributed democratic losses in 2010 to a tendency to try to reach persuadable voters at the expense of the base.   I agree with much of this.

But it also needs to be understood that many Democratic legislators seem not to have the stomach for butting heads with GOP front-man Terry Johnson and his crew, and instead enjoy singing kumbaya with him. Those who were guilty of this, and consider themselves progressives, now need to take a good, long look in the mirror.

UPDATE: Hamm on Wry has a good discussion of the Republican’s pathetic response.

Kerns Angry

The GOP circular firing squad has begun. Right-wing wacko Krayton Kerns, a Montana state rep from Laurel who ran for House speaker but lost out to the more moderate Mike Milburn, is fuming about the fact that the GOP allowed Schweitzer to eat its lunch during the session.

Expect to see plenty of GOP hotheads like Kerns in the aftermath of the GOP session debacle.

And of course, it will be all peppered with hilarious nonsense. In typical right-wing, Limbaugh-Beck mold, they will argue with facts that they pluck from some parallel universe. Kerns, for example, is outraged that the budget agreed to by the GOP and governor “is not balanced”, even though it leaves the state with an almost $300 million surplus.

He says Schweitzer “got everything he wanted,” even though there were cuts to education and other programs that were a part of the final compromise. And he says taxes will increase, even though there is no reason at all that they should.

Most of all, he’s pissed that his bill–which was intended to allow the carrying of concealed weapons in bars churches and schools–was vetoed by the Schweitzer. Never mind that every law enforcement group in Montana–like the highway patrolmen, sheriffs, cops, and others down on the line, opposed Kerns’s bill (will these folks start voting for Democrats?).

If I were making a psychological profile, I’d posit that Kerns is really just pissed at himself, for humiliating his party by proposing lunatic legislation, only to have the Governor throw it, and lots of other lunatic legislation, back in his face of the GOP with great success.

My favorite wound-licking tactic by wingnuts will also, no doubt, rear its head in the days to come: that the GOP lost its legislative battle because it “sacrificed conservative values.” That is, that the Republicans should have acted MORE conservative and not try to moderate themselves. In other words, go with the Tea Party and ride the wave. When ever Republicans lose or fail, the wackos always trot out this horse as the excuse.

Also, it’s clear when listening to the rantings of lunatic Kerns, and others like him, that there are two people who do not have political futures in the GOP, and these are Peterson and Milburn.

The Blame Game

The end of the legislative session should have been a triumph for Senate President Jim Peterson and Speaker of the House Mike Milburn — a celebration of the Republican agenda that the Republican incumbent Congressman Denny Rehberg could tout in his U.S. Senate race.  But if you read the latest series of news reports, topped of with Milburn and Peterson’s latest complaining in guest editorial form one finds only whinging, finger-pointing, and dejection.

“This is extremely disappointing,” said House Speaker Mike Milburn, R-Cascade, summing it up in in the Ravalli Republic.

In news reports about the GOP’s breach of budget deal, GOP leadership is coming across as increasingly desperate it their attempts to place the blame on the other party, rather than where it really lies –with themselves.

Here’s how the blame game went down.

At first, Peterson tried to claim to the press that he couldn’t understand how he had reneged on the deal.

“We did everything that he asked us to do,” added Senate President Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo. “I don’t see there is any reason for him to break the deal, other than he just wants to.”

Then, when the public  got wise to the fact that the GOP hadn’t delivered the bills their leaders promised,  Peterson and Milburn put out an awkward spin on the deal, saying they hadn’t really promised to deliver anything on their end, only to try to make an attempt.

Milburn said the deal was to have a vote on not only SB94, but also on a pay increase for state employees and a $100 million bonding bill for state construction projects — but that he didn’t promise that any of them would pass. All three bills were killed by the House last Thursday.
“I can only do what I can do,” said Milburn, who voted for SB94 but voted against the other two measures. “I don’t have total control over everyone.”

Which is just a pathetic way of saying that their caucus hadn’t granted them the authority to act on its behalf.  If this is true, they shouldn’t have written checks that their caucus wouldn’t cash, making commitments and promises that their own colleagues were unwilling to uphold (whether through incompetence an lack of leadership ability or the GOP takeover by the far right fringe it is unknown).

There’s a problem with this claim  that Milburn “could only do what he can do.”  It simply isn’t true.  The GOP leadership could have gone to their caucus at any time during the negotiations to ask them if they had they would vote to pass the measures that were part of the deal.  Their caucus could have done so and then Peterson and Milburn could have let the Governor know — and moved forward with the negotiations on other fronts.  Failure to make this happen shows that the  budget battle was between Republicans and Republicans, rather than between the parties.  As it was, that they had come to the table on false pretenses.

Fast forward to today.  Schweitzer is using the breach of trust as an opportunity to fix a slate of GOP bills with line-item vetoes.  He nixed a GOP tax on businesses and a bill to gut voter passed initiatives–actions that benefit the people of Montana.

Meanwhile, the GOP leadership is playing the blame game, while at the same time still making the ludicrous claim that the session was a smashing success because – get this -  that they had spent less time trying to make a budget that any legislature in previous history (as if this slamming through of  the peoples business with less than diligent oversight is a good thing.)  No wonder it needs a few last minute line-item fixes.