Sunday, August 14, 2022

Play

President Biden this week is poised to sign into law sweeping legislation that addresses climate change and prescription drug costs; Measuring the Supreme Court abortion decision's impact in the corporate world; Disaster recovery for Eastern Kentucky businesses.

Play

Local election officials detail how election misinformation is fueling threats; Media outlets ask a court to unseal the search warrant of Donald Trump's home; and the CDC changes its approach to COVID-19.

Play

Infrastructure funding is on its way, ranchers anticipate money from the Inflation Reduction Act, and rural America is becoming more diverse, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the leadership.

Dissecting the Causes of Montana's Budget Crisis?

Play

Tuesday, August 29, 2017   

Helena, Mont. – What got Montana into its current fiscal crisis? Some Montanans are pointing to legislation from 2003 that cut tax rates, mostly for the state's wealthiest.

According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, the legislation has cost the state about one billion dollars since it went into effect in 2005. With Montana now slashing its budget, state employees' jobs are first on the chopping block.

Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT, the state's largest public employees' union, says that will lead to diminished public services.

"We hire people to provide us healthcare and corrections and education, and when we cut the capacity for us to employ people to do that, well then we will get fewer programs, fewer services, and folks need to recognize that they are paying for less," he explained.

This session, lawmakers rejected bills that would have raised revenue, such as a tobacco-tax increase or closing the so-called "water's edge" corporate tax loophole.

Republican lawmakers say the state government has grown too big and needs to be reduced.

But MEA-MFT refutes this claim. For example, between the fiscal year of 2008 and 2017, the state only added about 20 employees. Meanwhile, there are about 75,000 more Montanans since then.

Feaver says people aren't always aware how essential public employees are to daily life. He uses correctional officers as an example.

"Most folks do not see probation and parole officers at work," he says. "Yet when a parolee does something that violates their probation, that may come to the public's attention in the newspaper, but if it didn't hurt them personally, well maybe they didn't notice that that parole officer simply had too much of a caseload in order to handle every issue that may come up with that parolee."

The state's shortfall is leading to $70 million in cuts. The Department of Corrections will cut nearly $3 million over the next two years. Public schools will reduce funding by $19 million, the Department of Public Health and Human Services by about $14 million, and $30 million will be taken from the state fire fund. More agencies are affected as well.


get more stories like this via email

Since the 2020 election, at least 19 states have passed 34 laws restrict­ing access to voting, according to the Brennan Center For Justice. (Orlowiski Designs/Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Voting-rights advocates are suing the state of Arizona over new regulations they say make it harder for some people to register and would block thousa…


Social Issues

New Hampshire ranks second in the country on measures of child well-being, according to the new 2022 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey …

Social Issues

Massachusetts ranks first in the nation for children's well-being, according to the 2022 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation…


While there are continued disparities, an annual report says Minnesota has seen progress in elevating kids out of poverty, with 12% of children falling into that category. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Minnesota once again gets a high ranking among states for child well-being, but an annual report says the state's disparities remain a challenge…

Social Issues

Some measurements of children's well-being show warning signs in Iowa in the area of education. The numbers contrast with Iowa's overall ranking in a …

Pictured in the center is Francine "Fran" Pace, one of 11 graduates of this summer's Youth Leadership Academy for Iowans with disabilities. (Photo courtesy of DD Council).

Health and Wellness

Nearly a dozen Iowa youths with disabilities are taking newly developed leadership skills out into the world. A summer academy wrapped up this month…

Environment

A coalition of community organizations teamed up in Oregon to force a chronic polluter out of business, and bring environmental justice to a nearby …

Health and Wellness

During National Health Center Week, health-care advocates are highlighting the work Community Health Centers are doing to improve access to care …

 

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