As Chairperson of the Cascade County Democratic Central Committee, I was asked to communicate our heartfelt disappointment with the Montana Senate President, Republican Scott Sales’ ludicrous suggestion that Montanans send $8 million to assist President Donald Trump in fulfilling his campaign promise and vanity project known as “The Wall” along the US/Mexico border. This distraction at the starting gate of the business of the Montana Legislature is both foolish and insulting.
Many have panned this idea as simply a bad one. As noted by Casey Schreiner, Montana House Minority Leader and Democrat from Great Falls, “Let’s prioritize building stuff in Montana, which we’ve unfortunately not been able to do, and not focus on spending money out of state.” As further noted by columnist George Oshenski, “The Montana Constitution provides no authority or mandate to send Montana Taxpayer dollars to the president for expenses of federal government. In fact Article 5, Section 11, (4) specifically states that: ‘A general appropriation bill shall contain only appropriations for the ordinary expenses of the legislative, executive and judicial branches for the interest on the public debt and for public schools.’"
This $8 million “gift” to the feds ignores Montana’s much needed investment in infrastructure, such as our roads and bridges. Or perhaps money to support medical assistance to Montanans, especially in our most rural areas in dire need.
For Sales to suggest this, is disrespectful at best, and shows abject abandonment of his responsibility of leadership in the face of challenges facing our working families across the state. Senator Sales should examine his commitment to Montana and its citizens. And, his fellow Republicans should examine what this message sends to citizens statewide.
Bill Strizich is the chairman of the Cascade County Democratic Central Committee.