Gianforte and Daines Voted Against Critical SRS Payments for Montana Schools; Daily Interlake Gives Them a Free Pass

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It’s one of the great frustrations of Montana politics that politicians like Greg Gianforte can vote against funding critical programs for the people of Montana and turn around to take credit for those very programs in the Montana press.

While the two have done it repeatedly in the past few months, perhaps the most egregious example was in today’s Daily Interlake, where Gianforte and Daines both touted millions of dollars in funding for the Secure Rural Schools program despite voting against the measure that funded it.

According to the Interlake, whose parent company just hosted a totally inappropriate event celebrating Gianforte, five counties in Montana can count on receiving $8.5 million in deferred Secure Rural Schools funding.

Funding for the SRS program has been in limbo since the program expired in 2015, despite offering critical resources to help counties that have seen declines in revenue from timber harvest on lands managed by the federal government. The funding is a big damn deal for western, rural counties who use the money for public schools and roads.

The Interlake quotes Senator Daines as saying “these much-needed funds are critical for Montana’s rural counties who have fallen on hard economic times due to declining timber harvests and natural resource production” and Representative Gianforte saying “today’s announcement brings needed, promised funds to Montana’s rural counties.”

They’re absolutely right. And, of course, despite arguing that these funds are critical for Montana’s rural counties and offer needed promised funds, both Gianforte and Daines voted against the spending bill that funded the payments, a detail left out of the Interlake’s reporting.

It’s just another example of the same cynical game that Republicans, abetted by the media, play in Montana: they vote against funding for vital programs and infrastructure before taking credit for it in press releases that pass as journalism.

Exactly one member of our delegation, Senator Jon Tester voted to bring SRS funds to Montana counties. Exactly one put the interests of our state ahead of scorecards from right-wing organizations that want to destroy federal programs with no regard for the impact of their recklessness on Montana communities.

Is it really too much to ask for the Montana press to tell readers exactly what kind of representation they’re getting?

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-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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