Archive for May 1st, 2007

by Jay Stevens

Everybody’s angry that the Legislature adjourned without a budget. Partisan gridlock is to blame, they say, Democrats, Republicans, ptui! They’re all the same!

Yeah? Read over the transcript from Scott Sales speech after the Legislature adjourned:

…we’ve met a brick at every stage of the way. There was absolutely no compromise with the Democrats. They wanted to spend it all, and then some. We took the historic step of breaking the budget into eight…er…initially six bills became eight…we did it for one reason, and one reason only: we wanted to bring forward a sustainable, accountable budget for the people of Montana, so that we could then offer the tax, uh, tax cuts that they deserve!…and we received not one bit of help from the Democrats. In unison on 49 votes, they fought us tooth and nail and refused to participate in the budgeting process.

The bills went over to the Senate, and they blew the budget up way beyond the subcommittee work…I believe about a hundred seventy-five million, if the — correct me if I’m wrong – about 27 million above the Governor’s budget…they were horribly irresponsible! They spent money that…uh…uh…nobody could even imagine! I think it was obscene and immoral how they bloated that budget up. Without giving any concern to the taxpayers of Montana again!

Um, it’s unfortunate the way this thing turned out. We came in here this morning, and…uh…what the intention and every, uh, uh, effort, to try to come some sort of resolve with the Democrats, and come up with a sustainable, accountable budget and tax relief, and in fact, a couple of our guys – Representative Lange and Representative Glazier – were in the midst of a negotiation with the Senate to provide some sort of tax relief, and they were called out of that meeting, it was adjourned abruptly so they could sine die and run away.

Now yesterday…we have repeatedly made offers to the Governor and to the Senate, ah, what we wanted to get accomplished. Uh, yesterday we got an ultimatum from the Democrats, I don’t know if anybody brought it here, but I’d sure like the press to get it in their hands. Basically it was an ultimatum, you do it our way or the highway. They demanded unilateral surrender from us yesterday, if we wanted to adjourn. Um, we held firm, on the belief that the money belongs to the people, we turned down that offer, and they decided to unilaterally surrender against us.

And somehow we’re to blame. Somehow we’re to blame because we are fighting for the citizens and hardworking people of Montana.

I disagree. I think we’re very unified in this. I hope when we come back in the next session the Governor is willing to work with us. He’s called, I’m sure he’ll call a special session. And when he does I hope he decides to attend that one instead of being gone, like he was so much of this one. And, uh, that’s my challenge to the Governor. If you’re going to call a special session, please attend it. And please come to the bargaining table with House leadership, so we can work out a compromise.

It’s all the Democrats’ fault, they’re immoral and obscene, they refused to compromise, and by golly! The House Republicans preserved their collective manhood by standing firm and forced the opposition to “unilaterally surrender”!

The Democrats offered a tax rebate, and even increased the amount of the rebate after complaints from the Republicans.

The Governor did try to compromise, but was told to “stick it in his *ss.”

While manly Scott Sales “held firm” in the name of saving Montana taxpayers money, he’s also sticking us with $38K a day for the costs of the special session.

Honestly, could you think of a more acerbic, more confrontational speech on exit from a confrontational legislative session, which nearly every Montanan has decried as being too acerbic and confrontational?

No wonder Republican Senator John Cobb had public thoughts about the House leadership:

[House Appropriations Committee chair John] Sinrud continued to cut off comments by [Rep. Eve] Franklin and other Democrats. During a brief recess, Cobb stalked from the room after telling committee member Dave Kasten, R-Brockway, that the Republicans on the committee were “a bunch of idiots.”

“They’re using the rules to abuse people,” said Cobb during the break. “They think they can bully the governor. It’s no different than what goes on in a Third World country.”

If this is the kind of thing Republicans are saying in public, what are they saying behind closed doors?

Let’s hope they’re discussing a change in leadership. Because right now it seems likely as long as Sinrud, Lange, and Sales are in charge, the acrimony will not subside.

by Jay Stevens

This is one of those “I heard it from a friend, who has a friend…” rumors, so it could be completely without merit…but, I heard that the state’s GOP leaders are mighty displeased with Mike Lange’s recent public outburst, and are considering organizing his ouster.

It’s a rumor. I’ve no proof. I’ve no evidence.

But it sure makes a lot of sense! Pretty much everyone in the state is ticked off at the Legislature for failing the one thing they’re mandated to do by the state’s constitution: provide the state a budget for the next two years.

Newspapers, pundits, and bloggers alike have made every effort to include the Governor and the Democratic lawmakers in the list of blame for the legislative mess, but every list ends with Mike Lange’s obscentiy-laden tirade not long after being offered a compromise by Schweitzer.

Lange’s “shove it up your *ss” is the last taste on the tongue for the legislative session. It’s the one moment Montana is guaranteed to remember until November 2008.

And the video of the rant has circulated far and wide, so much so, that Lange is probably now the most recognized Republican officeholder in Montana. (Apologies to Dennis Rehberg, but you don’t want that kind of publicity.)

So even if this rumor isn’t true…it should be.


Montana Headlines is right: he and I could hammer out a compromise on tax refunds…just give us a quiet room, a pizza, and two hours. Makes you wonder why the Legislature can’t…

Matt Singer apportions the biggest burden of blame for the Legislature’s failure to Scott Sales. I can’t say I disagree: he did start the session off with inflammatory rhetoric and then appointed a right-wing extremist to the chair of one of the most important legislative committees. He poisoned the soup before they sat down for dinner.

Montana Legislature: what could have been.

New West reports on what the Legislature actually did.

The Good Guv refuses to name a date for the legislative special session.

Senate President Mike Cooney suggests legislative leaders should meet in Billings and hash things out, on their own dime. An excellent idea.

With all of the recent Republican mishaps – including Iraq – Matt Singer mulls the future of the state GOP.

Sarpy Sam is irked by the Legislature’s inability to agree on a budget. While some of the right’s most ardent supporters deny it, you legislators represent us all. Git ‘er done, people.

Ed Kemmick has a few thoughts dislodged by Billings’ panhandling ordinance and the online commenters’ reaction to it…

You know your Representative is out there if his beliefs are indistinguishable from satire: Jesus General has embraced Idaho’s Bill Sali as a kindred spirit. (Hat tip Sara.)

Julie Fanselow tracks Sali’s voting record and wishes he were merely satire. Luckily Sali is the least powerful member of Congress.

Sara Anderson – on a recent blogging tear – mulls the media’s depiction of women interested in the issue of abortion.

Half the world’s species may be extinct at century’s end, and what may follow…

Montana Liberty Project touts geothermal energy.

Shane applauds the recent SCOTUS decision on patents.

Obama takes the lead in the Democratic presidential race. Colby mulls the results.

A fifth of the Gitmo detainees are “free,” but have to stay for “months or possibly years” because of administration incompetence.

David Broder: Karl Rove’s quail-eating buddy.

Federal contractors owe over $7 billion in unpaid taxes.

Prosecutor purge links, including news of a secret memo empowering Goodling, Sampson to have final say over fires and hires.

Ex-CIA official claims he has evidence that the Vice President’s office forged the uranium-from-Niger letter.

Reagan’s former NSA advisor, General Odom, urges Bush not to veto Congress’ Iraqi funding bill.

Now even diehard Bush supporters are shying away from the President, seeing a “bunker mentality” in the man. Not good news for the country.

George Will, William Buckley worry that the Bush presidency has irreparably harmed the GOP. Will: “This could be a foreign policy equivalent of the Depression…”

The Bush presidency has created a “toxic climate” for GOP candidates, affecting fundraising and candidate recruitment. Looks like maybe impeachment could be a reality if this keeps up, eh?

Independent citizens are becoming the watchdogs of government. Yes, MT legislators, we’ll be checking out who’s funding you.

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