The state Democratic Party has gone on the offensive on the Hi-Line, distributing a flier attacking a first-term Republican up for re-election in House District 33 in Hill County.
“Rep. Kris Hansen: Not On Our Side” a flier paid for by the Montana Democratic Party reads.
Chris Saeger, spokesman for the state Democrats, said the party members felt they needed to get a message out about Hansen, who, as of this morning, was running unopposed for re-election.
“Representative Hansen doesn’t believe she’s accountable to Havre, ” Saeger said. “She voted to protect foreign tax shelters for big corporations, while gutting education and health care for Montana familes.
“The people of Havre deserve to know Representative Hansen is following an irresponsible agenda that leaves them behind, ” Saeger added.
Hansen said this morning that she had no comment on the flier.
She also said she would not comment on her votes until she could review her files on the specific issues, bills and the votes themselves, citing the complexity of the budgeting process and her desire to review the issues before making any comments.
The Republican leadership in the GOP-controlled legislature repeatedly said it needed to cut the funding from programs because Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s requests relied on incorrect revenue estimates, and the state would end in a spending deficit if the budget was as high as he requested. The legislature cut spending to ensure the state would have a $150 million reserve.
In the end, the state revenue came in higher than what Schweitzer’s staff had predicted. The legislative fiscal analysis division reported in December the state will have a surplus of more than $425 million, $275 million than what the Republican majority shot for.
Hansen said during the Hill and Blaine county Republican Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner fundraiser in Havre Feb. 19 that cutting the state budget 6 percent was a victory.
“We tried to get 10. We looked at 10, ” she said during the dinner. “With the governor we did a lot of back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. ”
She added that she would have rather done targetted cutting to eliminate inefficient programs rather than doing across-the-board cuts.
The flier distributed in Havre last weekend lists five votes Hansen cast in the 2011 legislature, claiming it shows she supports corporations but not Montana students, children’s health care, senior citizen prescription drug assistance and home heating assistance.
The flier tells its readers to contact Hansen and “ask her why she’s doing more for special interests than Montana. ”
The flier lists Hansen’s vote against taking Senate Bill 94 from committee as an example of protecting foreign tax shelters for corporations. The bill, sponsored by Sen Ron Erickson, D-Missoula, was intended to attempted to increase tax revenue from corporations that use offshore tax loopholes. The fiscal note on the bill estimated it would have generated an additional $2 million a year.
The flier also lists four votes Hansen took against restoring some money requested by Schweitzer.
One was an attempt to add a total of $16 million to higher education. The state Board of Regents cited the state budget amount enacted as one of its reasons in approving a 5-percent tuition increase at each of the four-year campuses, including Montana State University-Northern, in each year of 2012 and 2013.
Another was an attempt to increase the budget for Healthy Montana Kids, the state children’s health insurance plan. The vote blocked adding $7 million in state revenue, which would have added another $9 million in federal funds for the program.
Hansen also voted against adding nearly $10 million to home heating assistance.