The secretary of state has certified all of the ballot initiatives that backers submitted signatures for, meaning voters will see six measures on the November ballot. The last two initiatives to be certified Friday were a controversial measure that aims to restrict state spending and one that would make it easier for Montanans to recall judges. Both seek to change the Montana Constitution and needed at least 44,615 signatures in 40 legislative districts. At Friday’s deadline for the secretary of state to tally signatures, Constitutional Initiative 97, the spending initiative, had received 47,905 signatures in 55 legislative districts. CI-98 received 49,956 signatures in 60 legislative districts. The battle of the spending cap ballot is shaping up to be a tough campaign.
A court battle over the way the ballot language is written has already made its way to the state Supreme Court. Prominent foes include Gov. Brian Schweitzer and influential educational groups, who say it is not needed because the state already requires a balanced budget and because it could slice into school spending and other programs. Montanans in Action, which is backing the spending cap, says its measure is improved over similar efforts that failed in other states and says the spending cap is needed to rein in state government. The same group also is backing the judge recall measure and I-154, which would make it harder for government to use eminent domain power, and hasAlready shown an ability to raise money and organize a solid campaign. But the group has come under fire for not revealing its donors. Three other measures are certified for the ballot:
I-153, which is backed by the governor, would make elected officials and others in state government wait two years after leaving office before becoming lobbyists.
Constitutional Amendment 43, which was proposed by the Legislature to change the name of the state auditor to the insurance commissioner.
I-151, a proposal to increase the hourly minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 starting in 2007