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Saturday afternoon blues

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Since gun violence is nothing new in the good old USA, I’ll focus on the more local, depressing news.

Health insurance premiums to go up

MTN’s Mike Dennison reports that big increases could be in store for individual and small group health insurance policies here in Montana. Blue Cross/Blue Shield is looking at increases averaging 62 percent for 2017. My insurer, Montana Health Co-op, is suggesting a 22 percent bump. Oh boy!

Sen. Steve Daines has the solution: “Obamacare is failing in Montana and we must repeal it.” He hasn’t mentioned how he’d go about replacing it, though.

UPDATE: Dennison filed a follow up story on the pay those executives in the struggling health insurance industry are getting. Here’s an example:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana President Mike Frank got a $639,000 bonus in 2015, on top of his $501,000 salary, for total compensation of nearly $1.15 million.

Aren’t you glad we have these middlemen (and women) between us and our health care providers, providing an unneeded service and doling out bonuses to executives? Medicare for all, anyone?

And finally, I’m sure glad someone out there in the news media is reporting this stuff.

We need to worry about this?

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is joining nine other states in suing the federal government over transgender bathrooms. It started when North Carolina decided it could determine people’s genders. Whatever it said on your birth certificate, that’s the bathroom you had to use. The feds sued NC over Title IX violations. That Fox is joining the other regressive states in the countersuit against federal agencies is utter nonsense, distracts from important issues at hand and basically panders to the far-right Republican base. Denise Juneau, public instruction superintendent and Democratic candidate for congress, summed it up nicely:

Attorney General Tim Fox has curiously joined a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, wasting taxpayers’ money. Here in Montana, we believe in local control of our public schools and trust our educators to do the right thing for all students. It’s wrong for Fox to politicize guidance on how schools should implement Title IX.

Spending more on prisons than schools

The U.S. Department of Education was also in the news with this report on prison v. education spending.

Seven states—Idaho, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia—increased their corrections budgets more than five times as fast as they did their allocations for P-12 public education.

Notice Montana is in the leadership of this inglorious, disturbing trend. As the department reports, nationwide, over the last three decades, state and local spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of funding for preschool through twelfth grade. Looks like we have our priorities a little mixed up.

 

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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