Regarding Montana’s severe budget crisis, I’m in favor of Gov. Steve Bullock calling a special session so the people who were elected to represent all citizens of this state can figure out a new budget.
Bullock should not be forced to make $220 million in cuts, especially since those cuts will directly affect the most vulnerable citizens of this state — the elderly, the mentally ill, those with developmental and/or physical disabilities.
Many nonprofit businesses that provide aid to these people, and jobs, will be adversely affected — also adding to the state’s revenue problem. Many businesses and jobs in Montana will be severely affected by the proposed cuts.
One of the reasons for this budget crisis was the refusal of the Republican majority during the 2017 Legislative Session to consider $280 million in additional revenue requested by Bullock which would have prevented these budget shortfalls. Now, the Republican majority is disingenuously trying to blame Bullock for the state’s budget problems.
Market forces — like natural gas — have severely impacted Montana’s income from coal taxes. Those gravy-train days are over because in addition to natural gas, people around the world are moving to renewable, sustainable, clean energy.
So, our Republican lawmakers have to face reality and adjust their sails in order to get more income. I do not believe making $220 million in cuts that will harm the weakest and most vulnerable members of our state is the answer. Tightening the belt has been done in the last few Legislatures. Tightening the belt now is more like tightening it (like a noose) around the neck of the poor.
Mary Catherine Dunphy