If you scroll down this blog page you’ll see my previous candidate declarations:
- March 14, 2016
- March 11, 2017
You can learn a lot about my ideas in those posts. Now we can add May 15, 2018 to that list.
Why such a late start?
Well, as you know, the Green Party wasn’t even approved for the ballot until mid-March. After that we saw the Montana Democrats file a lawsuit to kick us off the ballot.
But now it’s mid-May and the absentee ballots have gone out. We know that up to 75% of primary voters will vote this way.
So when people get a ballot in the mail with the name Greg Strandberg on it, they’ll think…who in the hell is that?!?
After that they might google me and that’s how they’ll find this site – it’s the top result.
And maybe if I’m lucky, they’ll see this post and learn about me and my views and what the Montana Green Party stands for and is trying to do.
So let’s get started.
The Montana Green Party’s website lists ten key values, and the national party’s website goes into them quite in-depth.
I’m going to give you my own perspective on these values, because I think they’re still vague.
The reason I say this is because many of the Green Party issues focus so much on national and even international issues that it’s hard to create statewide legislation based on them.
For instance, when we come to the key value of Democracy we have the issues of media reform as well as foreign policy and demilitarization.
As a Montana legislator, how am I supposed to do anything about that stuff?
- Sure, I’d love it if our media wasn’t controlled by a few profit-hungry behemoths that make most of their money peddling legal drugs to seniors during the commercial breaks.
- I’d love it if, as a country, we pulled back from the world stage and took the money we saved to fix this country’s huge infrastructure backlog, creating jobs in the process.
- And I’d love it if we’d reduce the Pentagon’s budget, or at least make them account for the trillions of dollars they’ve lost over the past few years.
But as a Montana legislator I can’t do those things.
What I can do is figure out ways to ensure the state isn’t so damn broke that the governor has to call legislators back for a special session just to keep the lights on.
With our shaky, three-legged tax stool, we can do this two main ways:
- Reduce spending
- Increase revenue
We’ve seen a lot of spending reductions this year, and we saw all the social services and jobs that were cut because of it.
We didn’t see a lot to increase revenue this past cycle, and unfortunately, one of the only ways we can do that is by increasing taxes on something or someone.
So who pays?
- Currently there’s a lot of support for the idea of raising cigarette prices by $2 a pack, creating about $75 million in additional revenue each year.
- There’s also the idea of the CoreCivic private prison in Shelby, and how the state can get $30 million from that outfit.
- One idea that’s not bandied around too much is legalizing marijuana and taxing it. Other states have made tens of millions in new revenue doing this.
- Another option is to increase property taxes, and yet another is to increase income taxes. We could also increase capital gains taxes. All affect different income groups in different ways.
- Someone always wants to put forth a sales tax, or at least a local option. I, however, oppose both of those ideas, and very much so.
So where does that leave us?
Pretty much with what we’ve seen for about two decades: two legislative sides duking it out, while nothing much in your life changes, let alone gets better.
I think a lot of people are sick of the two main political parties. Our problems in Montana haven’t gotten much better with them in charge.
Take our jails and prisons. Local governments continually have to ask property taxpayers for more, more, more…just so they can expand a jail because it’s full.
Never do we ask why it’s full, or how we can ensure it doesn’t get full in the future. I guess someone’s making money off it.
Back in 2014 I told you what a cost our state prisons are, with men costing us $97 a day and women $104 (juveniles are $333 to $481 a day).
We have to both figure out ways to decrease these populations while getting those folks jobs and helping them in society. Surely we’d save money long-term.
I suggest taking a bigger look at substance abuse issues, as this is the main reason people are going to jail and prison in Montana. Here in Missoula, however, our jail diversion plan was never implemented.
Another important issue is our environment.
This is important because tourists come to this state to see pretty scenery, not slag pits and clear-cuts.
They come to access public lands, not see fences where they used to be.
And those folks spend money – 12.5 million of them spent $3.5 billion in 2016, creating 71,000 jobs and $2.2 billion in wages. An additional $286 million in state and local taxes is generated, with about $30 million coming from lodging taxes alone.
Coal taxes generate $60 million in revenue each year. Oil and gas taxes bring in $145 million in a good year, and $45 million in a bad year.
In fact, just 3% of our state revenue comes from natural resource extraction. While this does benefit many people in the state, the vast majority of residents don't prosper from these industries, nor are tourists flocking here because of them.
We need to be creating more public lands, not less. I know my family would sure appreciate more state and federal campgrounds on those busy July weekends.
Oh, and those tourists sure don’t come to see forest fires and breath in smoke, though.
If the issue was global warming – which I think is pretty darn likely – then I’d suggest making more fuel-efficient vehicles while building the hell out of windmills, solar panels, and whatever else we can to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels.
Sure, it might take fossil fuels to build all that stuff, but long-term we’ll be better off. Our kids will be better off.
Will a rich California CEO or a well-off Wall Street broker or K Street lobbyist in the District of Criminals?
Probably not, but then I’m perfectly fine with that.
So that’s about 8 or 9 issues for you.
Mostly, I try to focus on common people…probably because I am one.
- I don’t own a home, and with Missoula housing prices averaging about $280,000, I never will.
- I don’t have a full-time job, but several part-time jobs. I don’t have employer-provided health insurance, I have Obamacare…which isn’t worth that much.
- I don’t have anything saved for retirement, and often wonder how I’ll get the rent paid each month while still buying groceries each week.
- I have an old car that, if it gave out on me, I’d be up shit creek. I made $1,700 last month, and I consider that a good month.
So I’m a regular guy that understands regular problems.
If that appeals to you, please vote for me.