Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Montana’s 66th legislature – Week 3

“Getting into road gear” would be the best way to describe week #3. The first two weeks were training, getting bills introduced, and getting committees organized. Now we are approaching the frantic pace that will define the next three months as we conduct the people’s business for the next two years.

The state budget (HB 2) is in its early stages of development. The six subcommittees are hearing presentations from the various agencies they oversee, as well as public comment. These meetings will go on for another few weeks, at which point we start putting the entire 10 billion bi annual budget together. This session, I am the chairman of the section B subcommittee, which is health and human services. This section comprises almost half of the state’s budget. Our goal is to deliver services to the truly needy in an efficient model while minimizing expenses, bureaucracy, and waste. This legislative committee is also focused on working with the department to develop objective, measurable goals as well as outcome based metrics.

Infrastructure will again be a key issue this session. Although Montana funds several million dollars of infrastructure each session through our coal trust, the bonding bill that would have paid for eastern Montana oil and gas impacts, as well as K-I2 school infrastructure has failed to muster the necessary 2/3 majority over the past two sessions.

I will introduce a bill in the next week or so that seeks to establish a long term solution to this dilemma. Based on best practices from other states that we have been researching during the interim, my bill proposes to establish debt and debt service limits based on the overall economy and revenue trends. Further,we will create an “infrastructure fund” that pays down debt in flush times, and bonds when conditions are attractive to do so. By creating a more permanent framework to address Montana’s infrastructure needs, we will hopefully avoid the political football that this debate has become.

Drop me a note anytime,

Eric Moore HD 37