Thursday, August 5, 2021

Play

A new study says current federal limits for exposure to wireless radiation should be hundreds of times lower for children, and President Biden calls out the governors of Texas, Florida for "bad health policy."

Play

Analysts warn the Delta variant could dampen economic recovery, former president Trump attempts to keep his federal tax returns away from Congress after a court ruling, and Mexico sues several U.S. gun makers.

Cuts to State Budget Affect Most Vulnerable Montanans

Play

Friday, August 11, 2017   

HELENA, Mont. – The full scope of pain from impending budget cuts is coming into view for public employees and the Montanans they serve.

Lawmakers turned down a number of bills to increase the state's revenue, and now the state faces a shortfall that will lead to $70 million in cuts.

Jill Cohenour is a chemist at the Montana State Environmental Lab with the Department of Public Health and Human Services. The department will have to cut at least $14 million over the next two years. Cohenour says that means cuts to staff who serve vulnerable Montanans, such as children facing abuse and services for the elderly.

"If it's longer and longer time frames and higher and higher caseloads, I'd be afraid that something might fall through the cracks and it won't be through any fault of anyone," she says. "It's just going to be the nature of the situation and not having enough people to do these important services in every community across the state."

Cuts will affect many departments across Montana. Over the next year, more than $5 million will be cut from services that provide care for the elderly and people with disabilities in their homes, 7$ million will be cut from hospitals that serve Medicaid patients, higher education funding will lose $15 million, and more.

The Montana Historical Society will see cuts to its small staff as well.

Diane Hall, graphic designer and videographer for the historical society, says it affects 24 of the 60-person staff, with nine people being laid off. She says the society won't have enough staff to be as open to the public as it is now.

"The people of Montana love their heritage and they love the historical society, but the budget cuts are really going to affect our ability to serve the public and give them access to the collections that actually belong to the people of Montana," Hall laments.

Cohenour is frustrated state lawmakers didn't do more to stop this budget crisis. Legislators said no to a tobacco-tax increase that would have added $135 million to state coffers, and three bills that would have created new tax rates on the wealthiest one-percent of households - adding as much as $61 million - along with other bills.

"To take all of the burden of the lack of money out on the citizens of the state of Montana and on the public employees who are committed to performing those services really is very shortsighted on the part of those legislators that didn't support some of the revenue enhancers," she explains.


get more stories like this via email

In the United States, home-care workers, mostly women and people of color, earn on average only $12 an hour. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for people with disabilities in New York are pushing for the federal budget resolution to include $400 billion in Medicaid …


Environment

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Freshwater mussels are key to keeping the Chesapeake Bay watershed clean, and with more than half of all species now facing …

Social Issues

BUFFALO, Wyo. -- The doors of five historic community halls across Johnson and Sheridan counties were opened this past weekend for 15 people curious …


Over the past six decades, there has been a steady increase in the number of fires in the western United States, according to NASA. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Massive wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada have triggered poor air quality in North Carolina over the past few weeks, and …

Environment

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Farmworkers are in Olympia today, calling for stronger protections from extreme heat. The farmworkers union Familias Unidas por la …

A video from July shows sockeye salmon with red lesions and fungus because of the Columbia River's hot water. (Conrad Gowell/Columbia Riverkeeper)

Environment

BOISE, Idaho -- Rallies are taking place across the Northwest to support salmon, which face dire conditions in the Columbia River Basin. Saturday…

Environment

IXONIA, Wis. -- The public comment period has ended, but opponents of proposed natural gas storage facilities in southeastern Wisconsin still hope to …

Environment

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvanians are growing worried about the environmental consequences of natural-gas drilling in the state, according to a new …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021