Well, that’s not quite true. Democratic leadership knows, especially people like Representative Chuck Hunter (HD 79 – Helena) and Senator Jon Sesso (SD 37 – Butte).
Both party leaders will be in Missoula tomorrow for the kick-off of a big democratic tour and press event. We’ll have a lot more information on that as it unfolds throughout the day.
So why do these two guys know but you don’t? Well, I think a big reason is the fact that even Steve Bullock isn’t quite sure what he wants the 2015 Legislature to focus on yet.
He’s getting there, though. And that means local democrats are starting to get there as well. After all, the governor usually sets the agenda for the state, and our governor is a democrat right now.
Alright, enough of this nonsense – let’s get to it, huh?
2015 Legislative Priorities for Montana
- Early Childhood Education: With a name like that, how could both parties not support it? Yeah, I wish it was that easy. Honestly, though, we’re looking at getting $500,000 in additional funding if we can have a cooperative effort between DPHHS and OPI. And that shouldn’t take a whole lot of work. This is also an issue I think is very important in attracting more high-tech businesses to the state, most of which have young professionals raising families working for them. They want to know they’re getting quality when they drop their kids off in the morning to daycare, preschool, or kindergarten – whatever it may be.
- Medicaid Expansion: Democrats are going to support this, and one day republicans will thank us. Right now we’re getting this worked up with Ballot Initiative #10, meaning voters can decide this issue come November. What does that mean? It means you can make your voice heard, and not leave this up to the legislature. That’s great. And it’ll also be great when our municipal and county hospitals get the federal funding they so desperately need right now.
- Main Street, Montana: I’m excited about this program. If you visit the Main Street Montana Project website you’ll see that there’s not a whole lot of information. What they do have are some great PPTs that will give you a lot of informative slides. The gist of it is that we need to get more jobs to Montana, jobs that are more in-line with the realities our state faces: an aging workforce and a critical need for higher levels of productivity because of it. Look, Montana might be a bit out of the way, but we’ve weathered the recession a lot better than most, and people from here are innovators in nearly every industry. I like that the governor is trying to get things going here, and we’ll know more when the 138 topical points are released next week, as well as when the city tours kick off in May and June.
The above points are three options for some of that money, but I can’t help but think we won’t get it unless we work with some of those republicans across the state. And that means supporting some of the things they want.
Look, we’re not going to get everything – neither party ever does – but we will get a lot. And we’ll do that by working together, listening to problems from other areas of the state, and coming to sensible solutions that benefit us all.