Dear Fellow Eastern Montanan,
As rapidly as this situation is moving, no doubt some of this news will be outdated by the time you read this, but here is the situation as of April 22:
The Governor held a press conference where he outlined a three phase plan to re open the state. Details can be found at COVID19.MT.gov. Several Republican legislators, including myself, have been leaning hard on the executive to get this done, so I’m glad he’s at least getting started, but we need to do more. I am going to continue to work for an approach with more local control. If you look at an infection map, southeastern Montana is without a single recorded case. It seems silly that Carter and Gallatin counties, 400 miles apart, should have to be on the same reopening schedule. Montana needs to get back to work!
The governor has appointed a task force to advise him on how the spend the federal CARES act dollars coming to the state. Although I am not one of the two legislators appointed to the group, I am in constant contact with them and other members. My priorities for these funds are: 1) Stabilize healthcare delivery systems, making sure we have enough supplies and personnel in the event of a second wave. 2) Get as many small business open as soon as possible. 3) Fill any holes in the federal programs for agriculture. The last FSA program (MFP) benefited the midwest much more than the northern states.
It is likely state tax revenues will plummet due to the crisis, and we must start planning now so that we can balance the budget in the next session with no tax increases. Fortunately, the state entered 2020 in very solid financial shape, which will help.
Finally, there are those in DC and Helena who will try to use COVID as an excuse to limit your individual freedoms in the name of “public safety”. As Franklin said: “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”. Be assured I will vigorously resist any such measures. Please contact me with any thoughts: email@example.com
Representative Eric Moore