KRTV - Great Falls
Courage, Not Cuts” rallies were held in three Montana cities Thursday night expressing concern over proposed cuts to state social service programs.
The rallies were held simultaneously in Great Falls, Missoula, and Kalispell.
Montana Human Rights and Women Vote Montana Organizing Director, Jules Shindel described the event "The state legislature has cut over $100-million from the budget. The majority of these cuts are coming from senior and long term care, from higher education, and from persons with disabilities. This would greatly impact the services that these populations receive, and would have a devastating effect on these populations."
Representatives attended from a broad coalition of organizations including the Montana Human Rights Network, AARP Montana, and the Montana Budget and Policy Center.
Speeches were given by representatives from a senior care center, Great Falls College MSU, and the father of a child with disabilities.
Each said the cuts would negatively impact the most vulnerable populations in Montana.
Organizers argue that the social programs could maintain funding by lawmakers raising taxes on households earning $500,000 or more per year.
But, some republican lawmakers argue that increasing taxes on the wealthiest of Montanans would hurt businesses, and actually lower revenue for the state.
Llew Jones, Montana Senator from Conrad argued "We had a revenue shortfall because those very LLC's, and those people you’re talking about, weren't able to keep employees. So, how would we solve a revenue problem by taking money away from the very folks that hire and put people to work. And, so we could do that. We could solve the problem for a year and then next year we could be upside down when we have no revenue at all."
Organizers of the “Courage, Not Cuts” rallies encourage people to contact their local legislators to explain how the cuts will impact their communities and families. To find out how to contact your local legislator, go to leg.mt.gov
Organizers from the “Courage, Not Cuts” rally encourage people who want to join the initiative to follow the Great Falls Community Action Team on Facebook, or email the group at email@example.com
MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.