Capitol issues

The sculpture “Montana” atop the state Capitol in Helena towers over the life-size statue of Montana Territorial Gov. Thomas Francis Meagher astride his horse.

If the March 19 Billings Gazette guest opinion by Emma Kerr Carpenter and Marilyn Ryan was not chocked full of fabrications and unsubstantiated claims, it wouldn’t be worthy of a response. However, leaving blatant falsehoods unaddressed is not acceptable.

Ryan and Kerr Carpenter lead off their comments by blaming Republicans for service cuts, using the following claim: “Our communities are still stinging from the devastating cuts to social services that went into effect last year. Workers lost their jobs, we lost critical services like treatment for mental health disorders, and in some cases, service providers closed shop because they could no longer sustain the cost of their operations.”

If Ryan and Kerr Carpenter were honest, and we hope they’ll make a good faith effort henceforth, they would have acknowledged that Gov. Bullock was responsible for the above cuts they attempt to pass off on Republicans. Rather than cut administrative costs, when Bullock called the needless special session in November 2017 (by the way, state revenues actually came in at the level projected by the Legislative Fiscal Division), Bullock cut the pay of front-line staff, and cut services to the most needy, in an effort to inflict pain that he could later blame on Republicans. Gov. Bullock cut front-line and rural service jobs to secure positions of urban, union employees, thereby preserving their votes.

They followed up their first “Pinocchio” statement by saying: “the Legislature [gives] up tens of millions of dollars in revenue”, making a phantom assertion that is inconceivable in its fallacy. “Revenue” in the Democrat vocabulary is synonymous with new taxes. So, these two would have people believe Republicans are bad because they didn’t raise your taxes, while telling you that’s exactly what we did. Huh?

Next, they claim that: “Our state does not have the revenue it needs to give Montanans the services they need.” Translation: “Democrats believe the Legislature needs to raise taxes to provide additional services to Montanans”. In November 2017, 68 of the 100 House districts voted down Medicaid expansion, a boondoggle led by the Bullock administration. The people saw through that ruse. Medicaid expansion cost Montana $547 million more in the 2017 biennium than projected. That’s money taken out of your pockets, both state and federal.

While we’re skipping numerous other fallacies concocted in some wonderland-portion of their minds, let us address their final fib. Kerr Carpenter and Ryan conclude by stating: “Our state is facing a budget crisis. It’s our job as legislators to take a hard look at our tax system and figure out a way to fund necessary services without putting the burden on you.” Their meaning: “Find some other schmuck to pay more in taxes so that we can give their money to whomever we deem “needy”.”

While fallaciously disparaging Republicans on their “budgetary failures”, these two voted on the House floor for $63.5 million in tax increases in House Bill 2, the state’s general fund budget. Had those increases been realized, the necessary taxes to fund that spending would have come out of your pockets.

Ladies, it’s shameful that you would use such misleading commentaries to attempt to cover up the budgetary failings of your Democrat governor and your party. Republicans continue to listen to working Montanans who are tired of Democrats fleecing them to pay for continued growth of government.

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This commentary was submitted by Republican state Reps. Steve Gunderson, Libby; Wylie Galt, Martinsdale; David Dunn, Kalispell; Derek Skees, Kalispell; Brad Tschida, Missoula; Seth Berglee, Joliet; and Bob Brown, Thompson Falls.