I am writing the letter to express my concern and frustration at the statements made by Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives Austin Knudsen in Tuesday’s edition of The Gazette. I refer to the comment that he condemns Gov. Bullock for “expect[ing] the Legislature to raise taxes on hardworking Montanans before any effort to reduce non-essential services has been made.”

What “non-essential services” is he speaking of? Has he not been paying attention? I could list them all, but all one has to do is look at recent editions of The Gazette, recent Department of Health and Human Services statistics, talk to the Montana Hospital Foundation, or, better yet, actually listen to the people that this affects. I do not consider early prevention and intervention for mental health and substance use disorders; public assistance such as food stamps and healthcare; or services to the disabled to be “non-essential.” Anyone that says otherwise is either not paying attention or simply doesn’t care.

As a taxpayer, I would much rather pay now for these “non-essential services” and get a return on my investment than make my kids pay for them in the future with compounding interest.

F. Malcolm Horn-Charnesky