Governor’s record needs scrutiny

By: 
Ed Butcher

Governor Bullock is asking for another term and has made a political issue of “balancing the budget” and his charges of “dark money” coming into the Montana election process from various interested groups. Interestingly, he does not complain about the “dark money” source utilized by the Democrat Party, which has for years laundered money through the labor unions and environmental groups.
The most empty claim by Bullock (and Schweitzer prior) is the claim of “balancing the state budget” which he has no control over, since it is mandated by the Montana Constitution, which requires limiting spending to current tax revenues or increasing taxes for increased state spending. The Legislature must approve a balanced budget originating from the House Appropriation Committee and approved by the Legislature—the only involvement of a governor regarding the state budget is the option to veto what is passed by the legislature. It was the conservative Republicans who battled the liberal Democrats/Republicans to at least keep spending within our current tax revenues during my 10 years on the Senate Finance Committee and the House Taxation Committee.
However, I am not proud of the fact that we could not keep the bureaucracy from growing state spending from $2 billion to $9 billion, made possible by the so-called “Responsible Republicans” who continually joined with the Democrats to spend every dime of taxes extracted from hard working Montana citizens.
Although the Democrats/liberal Republicans under Schweitzer’s leadership have the greatest responsibility for our tremendous increase in spending, Bullock is still responsible for increased state spending of $800 million, with assistance of liberal Republican big government promoters. Who you elect will affect your tax bill. Interestingly, Bullock inherited a $500 million surplus, which is now down to a dangerously low reserve of $100 million.
During Bullock’s term as governor we now have the lowest production of coal in 30 years, which has been a principal source of Montana state revenue. Most concerning is that Bullock has benefited from donations from leaders of the group responsible for closing the Colstrip economic base. The next governor and legislature will be facing a serious revenue crisis, as Bullock and his environmental political base have steadily shut down Montana’s natural resource industry.

Ed Butcher is a Winifred rancher and businessman who served 10 years in the Montana Legislature, representing Central Montana on numerous committees including chairman of the Senate Highway/Transportation Committee and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

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