Legislators ponder 2014-15 state budget

March 28, 2013

News director Mike Denison’s lead-in to a Missoulian article (March 6, 2013) under the headline “Montana House committee begins debating state budget bill” pretty well says it:
HELENA – Call it a crash course on $9 billion in state spending for
everything from prisons to public schools – and then you start voting on
it. That’s the drill for 21 members of the House Appropriations
Committee, which on Wednesday began three days of hearings on House Bill
2, the 59-page spending bill that lays out the state’s budget for the
next two years.
 (Mike Denison, in The Missoulian, 3-6-13)
With the moral center pretty much having been drained from politics in general,  state and federal budgets now fill that void.   A  public budget is the closest thing we have to an expression of our values. The budget is our Bible,  elected officials the high priests of  the money god. It is only fitting that proceedings take place  in the Temples of Helena.
The Missoulian article was exceptional Montana reporting in that it actually gave a number, $9 Billion. Other news articles on the State budget have managed to take up a large part of the front pages and not mention as much as a single number. As one high ranking Democrat put it, “People are not interested in details.”   One detail not real clear is since the Governor’s budget is $2.7 Billion, and the total expense amounts to $9Billion,  “Where does the rest of the money come from and who debates it?”
March draws to a close, the strain of seeming endless public hearings is starting to show on the elected officials, at least on those who have managed to stay awake for that long. For the most part, the budgetary smoke screen is intact. One area, though, appears to be gradually making its way into the public awareness. That is the so-called “soft” spending on education and human services. This may be the largest single item,  certainly it is  becoming the most talked about. These years, “claims” are driving the increases.  Normally, human service  jobs account for the increases. Both easily translate into Democratic votes.  If nothing else, fear mongers see to that. It should be noted that most of the money in those areas comes from Washington, DC.

Someone may come along and explain it all to us, one day.

For a transparent look at Montana’s budgetary through the legendary smoke screen, visit www.mt.gov


(2013 John Marks Special to The Montana Conservative)

Missoulian News

Missoulian News (Photo credit: Wesley Fryer)

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