Hello again, but from the Brenden farm. It was great to get back home and smell the fresh air of reality! Of all my years involved in politics, especially the legislature, this past one was probably the most difficult. And, that was not just my opinion, but that of others who have been involved for a long time.
Money, rules, regulations, special interests, term limits, personal responsibility and accountability are just some of the major issues facing this state. I have waited until the governor’s time limits for signing or vetoing of legislative bills for this last report.
There is an 11% increase in total spending for this next Montana biennium! Nearly half of that increase went for wages and pension fixes. Another $33 million went to funding higher education and $70 million went to K-12 education, plus another $50 million went for higher education projects.
Missoula again received $29 million alone for its school of technology and many of their taxpayers and legislators did not even want this project as it is so controversial!
And the governor vetoed HB218, which would have given some $35 million to oil and gas impacted communities. It seems to me that some got the “GOLD MINE” and we got the “SHAFT”!
In other areas, the governor vetoed bills that would have protected our economy and private property rights concerning wildlife and especially bison. He vetoed funding our conservation districts, water projects for towns and counties and SB269, which would abolish present law adjustment (cost of living adjustment) and start the process for zero based budgeting, which private business uses.
We have been working since 2009 to increase the funding for eldercare, nursing homes, etc., but only to have the last two democrat governors veto this much needed funding. These and many other bills we hope to override the veto.
Just two bills (HB) 218 (gas and oil impacts) and HB 12 (nursing home funding) passed – 142-8 and 116-34, respectively. We can only hope that some Democrats will help in the override.
Major tax reform and relief for taxpayers was also vetoed. Needless to say, I voted against HB2 (funding for general government) because in my opinion it just created bigger government and less help for the folks that need some help and consideration.
There were some successes this past session, but we should have done much more for Montanans. While I am writing this report, I would urge all of you to write, call, email or visit with our two United State senators and our Congressman about all the problems with our mail system. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Your voice is important and can make a difference.
I want to thank all of you for your emails, letters, phone calls, etc. for this past session. It has been an honor to serve you and represent SD18. Sincerely, John Brenden.