During his second ‘State of the State’ Address, Governor Gianforte laid out his vision for Montana – and it made one thing perfectly clear. The Governor is out of touch.
The Governor bragged about helping small businesses “thrive again” in Montana. But small businesses cannot thrive if they can’t find staff. Montana businesses struggle to staff up because employees cannot afford housing. In some communities, workers are so desperate that some have resorted to living in their cars. The Governor has failed small businesses by failing to address the housing crisis.
The Governor bragged about his Red Tape ‘Relief’ program. But no matter how much deregulation and ‘red tape relief’ the Governor wants to do, he isn’t going to deregulate his way out of the cost of living crisis that’s facing working Montanans.
The Governor patted himself on the back for fighting for “tax relief” to Montanans. But it’s barely “relief” for median income working Montanans, who’ll see on average $70 bucks.
The Governor called on the legislature to pass his property tax relief plan, (after his own caucus tabled his original plan). But real property tax relief will take more than a single one-time payment of $500. What happens to hardworking Montana families when their tax goes up next year? The Governor’s plan fails to address the root cause. The crisis will just continue to get worse.
The Governor reminded the crowd that he signed the Teach Act in 2021 to help pay first time teachers more – “it’s working,” he bragged. But the truth is that in Montana, starting teacher’s pay is still dead last in the nation.
The Governor said that “grandparents should be able to live closer to their kids and grandkids.” But under his watch, eleven nursing homes and counting have closed in Montana, forcing Montana seniors to be shuttled across the state, sometimes hundreds of miles away from their families.
The Governor bragged about investing “over $100 million to help stabilize child care.” But that money came from the federal government, and the Governor’s state budget does not make any direct investment in child care. Any progress on child care that’s happened this year has been made with federal dollars.
The Governor bragged about “the largest investment ever in broadband infrastructure.” But that investment is federal dollars as well. What the Governor doesn’t tell you is that he handed much of it to an out-of-state corporate telecom giant for projects in the largest counties, leaving little for investment in rural communities.
The Governor patted himself on the back for tackling the housing crisis by pulling together a housing task force. But if he were really serious about solving the housing affordability crisis, why did he send back $100 million of federal money that could have eased the housing crisis? He also stopped a rental assistance program that over 12,000 Montanans rely on to cover housing costs.
The Governor loudly and proudly declared his “pro-life” agenda. But the Governor’s war on reproductive rights is unconstitutional, extreme, and a dangerous intrusion on Montanans’ personal privacy.
Democratic Whip Senator Shannon O’Brien gave the Democratic Rebuttal to the State of the State – you can read it here..