The following letter appeared in the Carbon County (MT) News today:
To the Editor:
On Wednesday, May 29, State Senator Jason Priest discussed the recent session of the Montana Legislature at a public forum sponsored by The Group. The legislative session was not a good one. The power of the special interests in the health and education industries and the public employee sector remains unchecked. The budget was increased by 11%, with most of the addition going to health and education, but with no conditions of reform or increased efficiency. No effort was made to reform the public employee pension system. Bills for taxpayer relief passed, but were vetoed by the Governor. An effort to improve access to health care insurance for those below the poverty line was defeated.
In summing up, Priest said that many issues are complex, but that the basic choice facing the state is a simple one. Montana can be an Opportunity State, exploiting its natural resources while protecting the environment, encouraging business, taxing lightly, and simplifying its regulatory system. This would widen the opportunities for all citizens while creating the prosperity necessary to protect the truly needy.
Instead, Montana is choosing to be a Welfare State, which burdens the productive to support a growing class of “the entitled”. Unfortunately, without a solid base of prosperity and productivity, the Welfare State is not sustainable, and turns into a bitter contest for subsidies. The 21 Democrats in the Senate are the moving force behind the Welfare State, but they are not solely responsible. The Republicans hold 29 seats, but only 18 of them are reliable supporters of the Opportunity State.
(The Group consists of concerned citizens of Red Lodge who support individual opportunity and fiscal conservatism.)
James V DeLong