By Ray Peck
The Republicans have controlled the governor's office in Montana for 13 years, both houses of the Legislature for 10 years and the House of Representatives for 13 years. It seems every thinking Montanan should be prepared to answer the question as to why the voters continue such rule in face of the following facts.
The Republican tax policy has decreased corporation taxes while increasing farm and residential property taxes, much of the corporate decrease going to corporations that are from out of state.
Deregulation of electricity has caused increased consumer rates for some citizens and businesses already, and promises another 33 percent in increases over the next two years.
A declining share of K-12 education is being paid by the state, which further increases property taxes at the local level on residential and ag real property.
Major legislation was concocted by the executive branch leadership, legislative leadership, and corporate representatives in the back rooms of the Capitol and rammed through the Legislature in the final few days of the session.
Republicans replaced a mental health care program with one that was mind-boggling in its failures in both a financial and operational sense, after promises of great improvements.
The administration purchased a main frame computer from a supplier in India that costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million over three years ago and is still not fully functional.
The state government created a declining lower average income for Montana workers that is at or near the bottom of all the 50 states.
Problems in the agriculture area are largely ignored with little effort by the governors of the past 13 years to actively influence ag policy in Washington, D.C.
The administration has tolerated vicious attacks on the Montana Public School System to the point of refusing to accept money allocated to Montana by the federal government.
Major businesses are closing or reducing operations due to escalating cost of electricity, one of the real "economic positives" we had for many years.
The administration has a policy of stonewalling on critical issues such as the environmental cleanup in the Libby area that deserved a quick response due to citizen health issues.
Higher education tuition increases have to be put in place due to underfunding from the Republican governors and legislatures.
Reduction of the use of tobacco funds for prevention and education programs has resulted in national recognition of Montana as being one of the "five worst" in this respect.
Secret information on bids taken by Montana Power Co. on how they arrived at electricity charges that will be charged by them after June 30, 2001, has been allowed to go unquestioned by the Public Service Commission to date.
The administration underestimated the fund balance at the end of the last fiscal year by about $100 million, which should tell us all that all is not good in Helena.
Is it not time voters start asking questions on all these matters?
Ray Peck is a former state representative from Havre and is treasurer of the Montana Democratic Party.