Montana Politics

How About Those Revenue Estimates?

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While the ongoing farce of John Boehner’s default meltdown in Washington has led every single political leader in the nation other than Denny Rehberg to take a position, back home, today’s news provided a stark illustration about the difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to budgeting.

The Democrats believe in using facts and honest revenue calculations; the latter believe in using distortions and being deliberately obtuse to deny workers small raises, the needy social services, and children better schools.

Let’s look back at the session, shall we?

Republican House Speaker Mike Milburn, in February:

What he is doing is making our job difficult, because we have a responsibility to do. We still are short and we are short a lot of money and it is not looking that good into the future….We are doing better, but we are doing it at a less rate of growth than we have seen in the past. We have to deal with that, those are real numbers we have to deal with that, we can’t play games, we can’t play politics.”

Republican Budget Guru Dave Lewis in January:

Sen. Dave Lewis, R-Helena and chairman of the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, said Democrats, including Gov. Schweitzer, are being too optimistic. He said most Republicans believe the economy isn’t ready to take off, and that state spending must be reduced to match what they believe may be depressed tax revenue for some time.
“I could be a little less hard on that issue if I thought the economy was improving, but I just don’t see it,” Lewis said. “I think that’s the big policy debate of the session.”

Throughout the session Democratic leaders like Carol Williams, Jon Sesso, and Governor Schweitzer made it clear that a fact-based examination of tax revenue made draconian cuts and broken promises entirely unnecessary.

And they were right. How does the state look today? $340 million in the bank:

Schweitzer says Montana will start this new fiscal year with about $340 million dollars in the bank.This is the largest amount of money the state has ever had set aside for emergencies.

It’s bad enough that Montana Republicans acted the way they did during the session. It’s even worse that they couldn’t be bothered to be intellectually honest while they did it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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