Steve Bullock

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Montana Viewpoint: Hidden spending needs review, too

Jim

Montana is experiencing a cash flow problem and the governor and legislators are looking at ways to balance the budget. To do this, the Republican-controlled Legislature is looking at cutting funding to services that benefit Montanans. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is looking at cutting some of that funding as well, but he is also looking at raising revenue to prevent cuts by increasing taxes on incomes over $500,000, basically recovering a portion of a tax break enacted in 2003, discussed below. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Budget gets top billing, but plenty on the table in Helena

Keane

Budget subcommittees proposed further cuts to Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget throughout the second week of the Montana Legislature. “If we can get through the budget and balance it, that will be probably all we can do,” said Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Budget takes center stage in Legislature’s first week

Sesso

HELENA — Montana’s 2017 Legislature has begun to tackle a wide swath of issues, from public safety to infrastructure, from education to agriculture. But as the first of many bills were read in committee rooms around the Capitol last week, it became clear that everything this time around would focus on the budget. During a Republican caucus Tuesday, House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, told fellow party members that the challenges the entire Legislature faces in the coming months would be daunting. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Montana government’s mythical spending spree

Austin Knudsen

Two prominent Republican legislators published an op-ed in Wednesday’s Billings Gazette calling for an end to “irresponsible spending” in Helena. House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, and House Majority Leader Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton, say they want to be “a check on the governor’s spending and expanding government.” They also say that Montana faces a tight budget this year because of falling prices for oil and agricultural commodities and a “non-existent timber industry.”

Because of “poor management and excessive regulations,” they say, revenues are too low to meet basic costs. They don’t explain how poor management and regulations made oil and food cheaper, and they don’t explain how a nonexistent timber industry managed to bring in $296 million in labor income in Montana as recently as 2013. They do say that state government has added “well over 1,000 new state employees” in the last 12 years. Why 12 years? Continue Reading →

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Only thing worse than Obamacare is … what?

DC

The most important issue before Montana legislators this session isn’t really even on the agenda. And it’s not their fault.

The fate of health insurance for millions of Americans, and for tens of thousands of Montanans, rests in the hands of a Congress dominated by Republicans, who have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as one of their first items of business when Donald Trump takes over as president. The GOP also has vowed to replace Obamacare, but that could take years. In the meantime, uncertainty could damage or even destroy insurance companies, and millions of people could lose insurance. This has left Montana lawmakers in a quandary. Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Glimmers of good sense in election results

Fliers

Three weeks ago in this space, I urged readers of Last Best News to vote for Gov. Steve Bullock and Montana Supreme Court candidate Dirk Sandefur, and in favor of Initiative 182, loosening restrictions on medical marijuana. I won’t claim one iota of credit, but I will admit that on an otherwise dismal Election Day, I was buoyed by the victories of Bullock, Sandefur and the proponents of I-182. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Taking potshots at 2016 election

DC

An old newspaper joke says that the job of editorial writers is to go onto the field after the battle is over and shoot the survivors. The election is over; let the shooting begin. ♦ Cheapest shot: Democrats ran ad after ad pointing out that Greg Gianforte comes from New Jersey, as if failure to be born in Montana disqualifies candidates for public office. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Forget Trump, here are 2 key state races

EK

If I thought it would make the slightest difference, I would urge readers of Last Best News to vote for Hillary Clinton, given the mountain of evidence that Donald Trump is completely unfit to be president. But it appears that Montana voters are going to favor Trump in any case. Fortunately, it appears just as likely that the country as a whole will reject him by a large margin. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Opinion: Economics, not politics, changing coal industry

Plant

A recent spate of political ads on TV show the Montana Republican party blaming potential job losses at Colstrip and a downturn in coal production in Montana on Gov. Steve Bullock and the Democratic Party in general. Since we have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at coal issues over the past decade and more, we feel some responsibility to try to respond to this issue so that others will not be misled by blatant coal industry propaganda. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Governor’s debate rouses two cheers for politics

DC

I was just about ready to start this column this way: If you are not sufficiently depressed yet about the 2016 election, then I have a reading assignment for you. But suddenly I feel better. I admit that I’ve become unhealthily obsessed with this year’s presidential race. It’s the first time since the Kennedy-Nixon election of 1960 that I have genuinely worried about what will become of the country if the wrong candidate wins. I was only 9 years old then. Continue Reading →

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