HELENA (AP) Montana voters give the 2007 Legislature a failing grade for its work overall, yet support some of the major decisions that emerged from the biennial lawmaking session, a statewide poll found.
The survey conducted for the Lee Newspapers of Montana found that 73 percent of the people questioned gave the Legislature a negative jobapproval rating. Twenty-one percent gave a positive rating and 6 percent were undecided. Fifty-five percent of the poll’s respondents said Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s property-tax refund of $400 a household is sufficient, 33 percent wanted more and 12 percent were undecided. Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., questioned 625 people for the telephone poll last Monday through Wednesday. The poll’s margin of error is 4 percentage points. People surveyed said they are registered Montana voters and usually cast ballots in elections. Pollsters found 63 percent approved of the Legislature having allocated nearly threefourths of the state’s projected, $1 billion surplus to public schools, prisons, human services, state colleges and buildings. Twenty-six percent said more of the surplus should have been returned to taxpayers. Eleven percent were undecided. Fifty-three percent supported the Legislature’s decision to financially assist any school district that wants to offer optional, all-day kindergarten. Forty-one percent disapproved and 6 percent were undecided. The Legislature’s regular session, held in the winter and early spring, was the most contentious in years. Republicans dominated the House, 50-49, and Democrats the Senate, 26-24. The 90-day regular session ended on April 27 without adoption of a balanced, state budget for the next two years. Legislators completed the budget work during a special session in May.