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Gov. Steve Bullock:

Why don’t you listen to their cries?

Because of your current budget cuts, Montanans with true disabilities, who utilize state services and service providers, are being devastated.

You recently decided to end negotiations with the prison operator in Shelby, walking away from $32 million of money that Montana will lose if we can’t afford to purchase the prison. This money is real: $17 million is available to the Department of Public Health and Human Services now and should be used to fund front-line healthcare service providers and their disabled clients.

Why do you force them to suffer needlessly, withholding the services that were committed to them? Why do you value a building over the well-being of needy Montanans? You have $17 million available to pay front-line service providers and afford assistance to recipients who would benefit. Yet, you turn your back on Montana’s most needy, for what? To buy a building?

Your mismanagement of the $500 million ending fund balance you inherited in 2012, in addition to your 32 percent growth in state spending since you took office, are the chief culprits behind the financial bind in which we find ourselves, leading to your needless cuts to critical services. Yes, revenues dipped in 2016, but they are rebounding nicely in the current fiscal year.

A true servant leader prioritizes the needs of the people of Montana. It’s not too late. Accept the $32 million that Montanans stand to lose and leverage it with tens of millions of federal matching dollars to reduce the suffering of many in want of services.

Montana is counting on you to make the right decision and restore services to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable among us, rather than forcing them to endure more hardships.

Are people more important to you than your political ambitions? I pray they are.

Rep. Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, represents House District 97 in the Montana Legislature. 

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