In last night’s State of the State address, Governor Bullock laid out his vision for Montana, and presented proposals to build on the accomplishments of his administration. During the hour-long speech he touted Montana’s shrinking unemployment rate, record energy production of all kinds, strong business climate and increased graduation rates, among other things.
But, he argued that these achievements can and must be further improved upon. Bullock urged legislators to pass his policy proposals for the 2015 session, focusing on investments in infrastructure, healthcare and education. He presented a powerful case for expanding Medicaid to cover the more than 70,000 Montanans currently living without health insurance, and asked the legislature to pass his proposal to provide public early childhood education to Montana’s students.
While Governor Bullock outlined his vision for Montana, many Republican legislators made no attempt to hide their partisan opposition to his plans to improve and expand education and healthcare in Montana. While Democrats and Responsible Republicans stood, clapped and cheered to voice their support for these popular, commonsense policies, TEA Party legislators could be seen looking disinterested and disrespectful. Many even remained seated when Bullock suggested that hiring Montana workers for state construction projects should be a priority, as is done in many other states. You would think the TEA Partiers could at least get on board with that idea, but apparently not.
TEA Party legislators continue to oppose ideas that will move Montana forward, preferring instead to dig in deeper to their partisanship and fighting, rather than working together to do what’s right for Montana. Democrats in the legislature have tried to work with Republicans, offering compromises and fair debate, but many Republicans refuse to give up their “all or nothing” adherence to rigid and extreme ideology. This was demonstrated very clearly in the Republican response to the Governor’s address, when Senator Eric Moore spoke against the ideas that Bullock presented.
Luckily for the people of our state, there are some in the Republican caucus who have stood up to the primary challenges and political retribution from their extreme party leadership and worked with their colleagues across the aisle in past sessions, rather than just trying to score political points against the other team. Let’s hope that these Responsible Republicans are able to do this again in 2015, and work together with Democrats, in the best interest of Montana, to keep the state of our State strong.