Montana State of the State Address 2011

HELENA, Montana – Jan. 26 – Following is the prepared text of Gov. Brian Schweitzer's (D) 2011 state of the state address:

Thank you. Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, my fellow Montanans it is my honor to address this, the 62nd meeting of the Montana Legislature. First, I want to welcome my business partner, the mother of our children and on Sunday my wife for 29 years. Thanks for putting up with me Nancy. And I’d like to welcome my mother. About 30 minutes ago as she walked in and she looked me over she said, “Aren’t you going to shine your boots?” And I said, “Mom, I’ll be standing behind a podium they won’t even see them.” “Well you should shine them anyways.” And then she gave me a word of advice, remember mom? She said, “Are you going to remember to thank the people of Montana for giving you this opportunity?” Good manners, mom. Thank you.

Lt. Governor John Bohlinger and Karen, John remember seven years ago when we proposed to the people of Montana that we would try something that had never been done before? We said that a Democrat and a Republican can work together in governing Montana. Did you notice last night back there in Washington, D.C., they’re pretty proud of themselves for sitting together for one hour? In Montana, we’ve governed together for 6 years. Thank you for your leadership, thank you for your courage, thank you for your vision, John Bohlinger.

Since we met last, 2 years ago roughly, we’ve lost some great Montanans. And I’ll start with my father Adam, who was born in Montana, left only to fight for our country during World War II and for nearly 9 decades was a proud rancher. While he and my mother never graduated from high school, his proudest moment was when he sent all 6 of his kids to university. Thanks dad, we’re praying for you. We lost an extraordinary leader, one of the greatest leaders in Indian Country, my friend Chairman Carl Venne of the Crow Nation. We’ll miss you Carl.

And two of our heroes that keep our highways safe, two highway patrolmen, David DeLaittre of Belgrade and Michael Haynes of Kalispell. God rest your souls. We lost a volunteer EMT from Glasgow by the name of Melissa Greenhagen. And once again, I stand before you as the Governor of Montana to report the names of the men who have given all in service to our country during the last two years. I’ll read their names: Andrew Charpentier, Great Falls; Garnet Derby, Missoula; George Anthony Kellum, Lame Deer; Michael Rogers, White Sulfur Springs; Terry Lynch, Shepard; Trevor Johnson, Forsyth; Shannon E. Swartz, Great Falls; Reginald “Reg” Richard Lawrence, Jordan; Jed P. “Cole” Naisbitt, West Yellowstone; Nicholas Cook, Hungry Horse; Jeremiah Sipes, Belgrade; Kerry Sweten, Columbus; Ryan Buckles, Poplar; Byron Whitcomb, Whitefish; Shane Barnard, Box Elder; Jeremiah Wittman, Billings; Lawrence Gregor, Helena; Nicolas Uzenski, Bozeman; James Stright, Libby; Benjamin Pigman, Hamilton.

Can we have a moment of silence to honor these men who gave their all? Thank you. Well, Elvis isn’t in the house tonight, but we have a lot of important guests, led by the Attorney General Steve Bullock. It’s alright, give him a little love. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. We call her Auditor, but she’s actually our Insurance Commissioner, Monica Lindeen and our Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. We have our members of the PSC Commission here tonight, thank you. We have tribal leaders, who have come from many of our tribal nations across Montana, thank you for making the trip. We have Governor Tim Babcock and First Lady Betty Babcock, God bless you, thanks for coming. Now Betty’s told me the story of how they, for a while, had a monkey while they were living in the Governor’s residence, but that’s a story for another night. Ok Betty? And members of my cabinet and my staff, I’m biased here, but I think we have the best educated, most dedicated cabinet and staff in the history of Montana. Thank you on my good days for making me look good. Thank you.

We share a common history and we must aspire to a common destiny. Our work during this 62nd meeting of the Legislature must be inspired by the collective goals, hopes and dreams of the mothers and fathers across Montana. And while we gather here in the capitol city for 90 days and nights — our bosses continue to do Montana’s work in every community across Montana: the cook and farmer; the truck driver and the mechanic; the teacher and the student; the doctor and the nurse; the engineer and the contractor; the coal miner and boilermaker; the general and the soldier; the logger and carpenter; parents and children with big dreams under the big sky. Each morning at breakfast — moms and dads prepare our leaders of tomorrow for the schools of today and each night they pray together, they pray together for a better and new day.

Your mission, members of this legislative assembly, is to prepare Montana for that new day, a day of more opportunity, more freedom, lower taxes, new opportunities, better schools and higher paying jobs. And while building a Montana for those high paying jobs, we will not forget those who have protected us in the past. They fought for our individual freedoms, to be who we are, unique, and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now is time to bring Montana together. Don’t divide us with divisive language and legislation. Let us celebrate diversity and not abridge our individual rights and choices.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The God who gave us life, [also] gave us liberty.” Please bring me bills that unite Montana. Bills that help our businesses create jobs, bills that prepare our students for a better tomorrow, I'll sign them. Each bill you send my office ought to create more, higher paying jobs. The people who sent us to this capitol had two messages for us: work together and create more job opportunities in Montana as soon as possible. These are serious times. Don’t send me bushels of frivolous and feel good bills and unconstitutional statements. If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time... let's aim high, let’s aim for higher paying jobs.

Montana expects us to get a few things and to get them right. First, they expect you, this Legislature, to get a balanced budget back to my office in 90 days. Second, this is important, they expect you to reform a bloated, unworkable workers compensation system that is fair for workers and helps small business start and grow in Montana. Third and this might be your most important task and if you get it right it will create thousands of jobs in Montana, if you get it wrong or you don’t finish it there will be pink slips that go to workers across Montana. Montana expects you to fix the eminent domain laws. Do it soon, do it now, let’s get Montana working again. It was Henry Ford that said “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

Montana has always been a state of dreamers, those gold miners who raked the gravel at Alder Gulch and later hit it rich at the Drumlummon mine. The homesteaders, like my grandparents, who came to Montana with just the clothes on their back, faith in God and the promise of owning their own land. The first Montanans who for hundreds of generations cared for our peaks and our prairies, our rivers and our wildlife, each generation protecting the dreams of the three generations before them and nurturing the dreams of the three generations that would follow them. Yes, Montana we are home to big dreamers, risk takers, and great doers. Let’s help those dreamers soar to their goals. I’ve proposed a balanced budget for this body to consider that continues to invest in a world-class education that protects the elderly, the disabled, the least fortunate, maintains our public safety, cuts taxes for homeowners and eliminates the business equipment tax and still maintains the second largest savings account in the history of Montana. A proposed savings account that is four times larger than the average savings account of the four previous administrations during the last sixteen years.

During the last six years, working together, we’ve cut more taxes for more Montanans than any time in history. We’ve attracted businesses, small and big, to start and grow in Montana. We’ve developed more new energy and we’ve created an education system that’s more affordable, more accessible, more digital and more relevant. The great recession landed in Montana like the rest of the world. Legislature, in your absence, we made some tough decisions and we cut five percent and more from the last budget that you sent me. The hardworking state employees, the people who do the work that matter, they started first and they agreed two years ago to a two-year salary freeze. And then we asked Montana for their ideas and we got a thousand and more ideas on how to make Montana more efficient. The Lieutenant Governor and myself, we started by cutting eleven thousand seven hundred and sixty-four dollars from our own salaries. Sorry, John. We sold fifteen percent of the state’s car fleet and we increased the gas mileage on the remaining fleet to thirty-five miles per gallon. We stopped out of state travel, we decreased in-state travel by replacing that travel with technology and we stopped buying new computers. We decreased the number of state cell phones and we curtailed the service plans for the ones that we had. We combined our state department servers and we reduced energy consumption by twenty percent in our state owned buildings. I thought that’s something Republicans, Democrats, everybody can clap for reducing energy consumption.

We decreased the size of the workforce, we stopped printing state phonebooks, we re-negotiated building and office leases which rooted out sweet heart deals that were signed and negotiated by previous administrations. And our Department of Revenue, they contacted out-of-state companies who had not been paying their taxes for decades and they collected eighty million dollars, new dollars, to the state of Montana from people who owed us this money. Today, today we’re one of few states in the black. We’re one of a few states with cash in the bank. I asked Doctor No, the director of our budget office today, and I said “David, how much cash do we have in the bank?” And he said, “three hundred and thirty million, nine hundred and ninety-seven thousand, three hundred and fifty dollars and eighty-four cents.”

That’s not an estimate. That’s not an estimate, that’s not a prediction, that’s not some kind of a model, that’s cash in the bank. Now, that probably doesn’t mean a lot to folks. Well, how much money we ought to we have in the bank, what’s the normal amount? So, I looked into that and I can tell you this, that in the years before I was elected Governor, all the way back to 1889, we’ve never had a single time in the history of the state of Montana that we had three hundred and thirty million dollars in cold hard cash in the bank. This is a good time to have cash and we’ve heard a lot about revenue predictions. It was Niels Bohr who won the Nobel Prize that said, “Predictions are difficult, especially if they’re about the future.” Well, I agree. Predictions are difficult, but perhaps history is our best indicator of the future. The revenue predictors in this building, since I was elected Governor six years ago, have underestimated our revenue on average by three hundred and eight million dollars every biennium. Not sometimes high, and sometimes low, always low, always wrong and always way low.

Now, I know that there’s many people like me that like to hunt in the fall and you know the ritual. In the fall of the year you go out to the range or you go out against a big hill and count off a hundred and fifty or two hundred yards and then you put that bulls-eye up and you slide one round in and squeeze a shot off and you look, eleven inches low. Try it again, twelve inches low. One more time, twelve inches low. Ah ha, we’ll adjust. So, then you turn it three quarters of a turn up, you fire again, six inches high, quarter turn back, bull’s eye, we’re ready. Don’t you think it’s time for us to re-adjust how we make our guesses around here? Don’t you think? Let me just say this: let us commit to be weary of half-truths; we may just get the wrong half. We have the money for our priorities, we have over three hundred million dollars in the bank and even if the estimates of declining revenues are correct and they’re not, we can write a check from the savings that we have in the account and not raise taxes and still fund the critical priorities of Montana. That’s good business management.

All of the economic indicators are up. I’ll give you an example, for this year the revenue estimators had thought that maybe we would increase our total revenue by two point seven-five percent. We’re already six months into the year and we’re increasing our revenues by approximately ten percent. Dan Bucks, over at the Department of Revenue, told me yesterday that for the first six months our wages withholding are on a pace this year to break the all-time record for wages withholding. Meaning simply this, this will be the year that wage earners will be paid more collectively, totally more than any time in history. That’s got to be a good sign as well.

Coal and oil production up and prices are too. We’re increasing our wind energy at one of the fastest rates in the country. Platinum, seven hundred and eighty-five dollars, gold thirteen hundred and twenty-five, copper four dollars and twenty-four cents and this last year we grew the biggest wheat crop in the history of Montana, two hundred and twelve million bushels and all over Montana and they’re selling it for eight dollars a bushel. The biggest hay crop in the history of Montana, well, even the Republicans clapped at a good hay crop, that’s good, we’re getting somewhere. And for the first time in a generation, both grain and cattle prices are high. The farm sector harvested three billion dollars and more for the very first time in the history of Montana, that’s got to be a good indicator. There we go Eric. Eric’s clapping, because he’s got a feedlot and he’s buying a bunch of these expensive calves and he’s hoping there’ll be worth some money when he gets them fat.

But some Republican Legislators talk like everything’s broken in Montana. If you’d like to help, help us bring businesses to Montana, help us promote, accentuate the positive. Now, we’re not perfect, we can improve, but the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, they, hold Montana up as a model for fiscal discipline. Wall Street has improved Montana’s bond rating for the first time in thirty years, and for the first time in the history of Montana, we now have a double A plus bond rating. There you go. The Republicans are for a good bond rating, I like that everyone likes a bond rating.

The US Chamber of Commerce has just named Montana the number one state in the nation to start and grow a business. The Tax Foundation has rated us the sixth most business friendly tax state and we have the fourth most educated work force. And of course, during the last ten years, Montana’s gross product, the aggregate of all of the service and products that we produce, has increased by sixty-five percent. During a ten-year period we’ve increased by sixty-five percent and during that time, for your information, while we grew our gross domestic product by sixty-five percent, we only increased the number of real state employees by two-point-four percent. I would put that record against any government, large or small, worldwide, any corporation, or any business, large or small, to increase your output by sixty-five percent and only increase the number of employees by two-point-four percent. Thank you Montana state employees for being so efficient, thank you.

After more than a decade of effort, the Montana Land Board put the Otter Creek tracts up for competitive auction. We recruited one of the largest coal companies on the planet, Arch Coal, to write us a check for more than eighty million dollars just to have the right to begin to get the permits to open that mine. Let me tell you how important that mine is, that mine, during the next thirty years, will mine one point five billion ton of coal, approximately equal to all of the coal that we have mined during the history of Montana. It will create thousands of jobs Duane Ankney, in your back yard, and it will send more than five billion dollars worth of royalties and taxes to this Legislative body to decide what to do during the next thirty years. Thank you to the Montana Land Board. Thank you for your efforts.

Now, the rest of the world recognizes Montana’s business environment and money management skills. Montana’s best days are ahead of us. I would ask Montana’s leaders to join the course. Remember, it was the optimist who built the airplane, the pessimist who thought of the parachute. I’ve invited, tonight, some of the companies that have proven to the world that Montana is the greatest place in the world to start a business. In 2009, some folks stopped into my office from a little mining company from Toronto, Canada, called RX Exploration. They said to me, “We’ve been buying a few of these mining patents in Montana. We’re not sure what we’re going to do, because we’ve been hearing that Montana’s not a good place to mine. Regulations are tough, people don’t want miners here, and they told us in Canada, bad place to mine. We got here and we even had business leaders who said ‘Oh don’t come here, bad place to mine.” I said, “Listen to me, why don’t we walk over to our Department of Environmental Quality and I’ll introduce you to the people who will actually do the permitting. You can ask them every question that you might have about permitting that mine.” So Murray and I, would you please stand up, stand up please, the President and CEO of RX Exploration, well, they didn’t listen to those folks. They said they’d take a gamble on Montana. They went back into that Drumlummon mine and they cored for about a week and they cored into the Charlie vein. Now the Charlie vein has been recognized right now by mining engineers all over the world as the richest quartz vein on the planet. The Charlie vein has twelve ounces of gold and fifty-five ounces of silver per ton. Here’s what this means, every rock that they drag out of the mine before its processed is worth eight dollars a pound and now RX minerals is recognized around the world for developing the Drumlummon mine. Thank you for taking a risk and thank you for employing a hundred and forty Montanans.

John DeMichiei is here, stand up John. In May of 2008, I traveled out of state and met a fellow by the name of Wayne Boich. Wayne Boich, his father and uncle had been in the coal business going back for the last fifty years, mostly in western Virginia and Ohio. Right away I started telling him about all the great coal deposits we had in Montana and it wasn’t long before I was bragging up that mine that we have, we could start there in Roundup, the Bull Mountain. Well, it got kind of interesting, one thing lead to another and it was just sixteen months later, after that first conversation, that they’d invested five hundred million dollars in Montana, opened the Signal Peak mine, built the longest spur on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe system in the entire western United States, thirty five miles, the longest one built in the last thirty years and now they have a capacity to produce a half million tons every single year. Thank you for testing us. Thank you for employing two hundred and sixty-three miners in Montana. Thank you to Signal Peak.

Back in 2005, this body decided it was a good idea to put a little money aside so that we could attract different companies to come here, because a lot of companies say, “I’d come to Montana but, you know, we make widgets and you don’t have a single widget here in Montana, we’re going to have to train people, would you help us train those people for those emerging jobs?” It was this body that agreed to put some money aside so we could attract companies and one of the first companies that we attracted was Don Parkin, stand up Don, Executive Vice President of Avmax. Now Avmax repairs airplanes and with our job training and their good marketing skills and management they decided Great Falls was a great place to employ a hundred and sixty people. Speaker Milburn, I believe you and I were there, together, when we cut that ribbon. Thank you, Avmax, for choosing Montana.

A billion years ago and a little longer there was an intrusion that rose up from the center of the earth. It was a molten material and it drove its way within two miles of the surface near Billings, Montana and then started to cool and it spread out like the cap of a mushroom for fifty miles all around. Well, that was a billion years ago and, well frankly, the whole world was a single continent and we were all under ocean and nobody noticed. But through time there were a few changes and about nine hundred and ninety million years later the Beartooths rose up, your backyard there Jason Priest and it pushed that Stillwater complex into the mountain. Frank McAllister is here, why don’t you stand up Frank? Frank McAllister is the CEO of Stillwater Mining Company and in that Stillwater complex, that intrusion, we have the only Platinum and Palladium mine in the Western Hemisphere. I mentioned to Frank here a little earlier today, he was saying he just got back from Bermuda peddling that Palladium and I said, “Well Frank, don’t complain, you were working just as hard two years ago when Palladium was worth a hundred and eighty dollars an ounce and now it’s seven hundred and eighty-five dollars an ounce, I think you can afford to scoot around just a little bit.” Let me tell you something about Frank McAllister and the Stillwater Mine. They employ thirteen hundred and fifty-two Montanans, including eighty-one new hires, and a few years ago, when some of the neighbors were concerned about this mine and what kind of effluent might come from that mine and when the roads would be built and the kinds of transition lines, it was Frank McAllister that sat down with the community and the environmental community and said, “We want to be a good neighbor.” They created the good neighbor policy and if you travel within a thirty mile radius of the Stillwater mine you will find neighbors who say, “We love that mine.” Thank you for continuing to mine in Montana. Thank you, Frank McAllister, for being a good neighbor.

When this body passed the renewable portfolio standard in 2005, we knew that we had the best energy resources on the planet. We didn’t know which companies would come here. We didn’t know a company like Naturener, from Spain, knew about the wind energy of Montana. We didn’t know that they would make this kind of investment. Bill Alexander, who is the Chief Development Officer in North America, would you please stand up Bill? Naturener currently has the largest wind farm in Montana, near Shelby. It’s the Glacier Wind Farm with two hundred and ten megawatts. They’re building an even larger wind farm called Rim Rock with three hundred and nine megawatts. This farm, collectively, will be the largest wind farm in the Pacific Northwest. They’ve employed twelve hundred construction workers, fifty full time employees and they pumped seventeen million dollars worth of royalties and taxes into the local community and to the state of Montana. Bill thanks for believing in Montana. Thank you.

In 1996, a fifth generation ranch kid decided to do some manufacturing in Montana and he, like me, has a love for all things dogs, especially Border Collies, and so he started making pet toys. And then West Paw Design expanded, then expanded again and expanded again. And people kept saying to him, “You can’t manufacture in Montana, don’t manufacture in the United States, take it to Asia, like everybody else.” Not Spencer Williams, he’s a Montana boy. He said we’ll just keep growing here and, today, they sell their pet toys in three thousand stores in twenty-four countries and he employs forty-one people in Bozeman. Thank you very much. Stand up Spencer. Thank you very much. Thank you for your love of animals.

In 1967, an optimistic Okie started his own little oil company. He drilled and poked around in Oklahoma and Texas and Kansas and went broke and sometimes made money and sometimes made a little bit more money and things got a little better and he started a publically traded company called Continental Resources. Harold Hamm, well, he got to thinking about maybe coming up to the Bakken about a dozen years ago and maybe fracking it like he had some shales in some other places. Harold, would you stand up? So, Harold came up to the Bakken and he was one of the early guys and he told me here a little while ago he had it all figured out when he got here. So, he drilled about nine thousand feet deep and did all that horizontal and he fracked it and he put exactly the right kind of sand and water and chemical in it and nothing, nothing, dry hole, five million dollars gone. So, naturally, he’s from Oklahoma, he did it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and finally he hit it and Harold Hamm and Continental Resources is the largest oil producer in the Bakken today. He has eight hundred and fifty-three thousand acres leased. Harold Hamm, more than anybody else on the planet, is the man with the key to unlocking the oil in the most important oil deposit in the United States, but there’s more to the story.

Four years ago, the oil producers in eastern Montana, western North Dakota contacted me saying, “We’re getting twenty and thirty dollar discounts.” Harold says, “Why? Because we’re actually producing more oil than we can put in the pipelines and we have to ship some of it on the rail and these, well these pipeline operators, well sometimes they can be rascals.” Who knew? So, we got the Governor of North Dakota and the Governor of Wyoming and a bunch of oil producers together in Billings, we talked about this. And we were able to relieve some of these bottle necks and we got some more of that oil moving in the existing infrastructure. Price went up for a while, then they started producing more oil and more oil and then, we started getting that squeeze again. So, everybody was real excited when TransCanada announced that they’re going to put this huge pipeline in, right Harold, going all the way up there from northern Alberta right through our oil patch and on down to the markets in Cushing, Oklahoma. Eureka, we’re in good shape. Harold and a bunch of the other oil guys started contacting TransCanada saying, “Boy we, we’d sure like to sign up on that pipeline.” And TransCanada would say, “Well, you know, we got a lot of oil already here in Alberta and we’re not so sure that we want to sign five or ten year contracts, we want twenty. Tell you what. We’ll get back to you.” I heard from oil producers all over western North Dakota and eastern Montana, “We’ll get back to you.” So, last year we had a meeting out there in Bismarck, didn’t we Harold? We sat down and said we’ve got to do something. I promised them I’d do a little shuttle diplomacy, so back and forth between TransCanada and the oil producers, meetings in Billings, more meetings in Billings, the Governor of North Dakota came over too. TransCanada started coming to the meetings, pretty soon they started thinking maybe it’d be a good idea. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we sent a letter to the Public Service Commission in Montana and we said to them, well, don’t you think that this pipeline ought to be considered a common carrier? And they dusted off their old law books and they sent a letter back and they said, yea, common carrier. That means Harold can put his oil on that pipeline if he wants. We called TransCanada, wasn’t long before they were talking and then last week TransCanada announced that they were going to invest a hundred million dollars to build an onramp in Baker and take sixty-five thousand new barrels of oil from eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Harold thanks for believing in us. Thanks for sticking it out.

The best path to a higher paying job is a good education. Most states are cutting their funding for education, but our good planning, resilient economy and money in the bank means that we can continue to invest in public education. Members of this legislature, if you choose to cut funding for public education, you do so as a reflection of your values, because we have the money in the bank.

When John and I were running for Governor, we talked to a lot of people, a lot of businesses and they said what we really need to do is reform our higher education system, because all of these new jobs that are coming to Montana. We need to have a system that trains and retrains adults and young people for these emerging jobs. John, remember? We traveled around the state. Well, I’d actually go out to eastern Montana, John kind of handled Billings, and that’s what we heard, we went to Plentywood, Scobey. One time, though, after we were elected, I started getting some new information from Linda McCulloch. Then she ganged up with Carol Williams and they came in and they said, “Brian, we understand that you want to invest in higher education and these two year programs, but don’t you know that if you have another penny you ought to invest it earlier?” And then they introduced me to a fellow who’d won a Nobel Prize in economics and he told me if you invest earlier, you’ll have better students when they’re in eighth grade. And then I met some principals from all around the world who said the same thing, some university presidents who told me the same thing. You know I’m half German, so it took me a while, but I started listening, and these two gals they were biting on me like dang bull dogs. And then I started noticing and I found that if we started early enough, if we start when a child if five years old, it won’t matter whether their parents both are doctors or lawyers and live at the country club or whether their parents didn’t even graduate from high school, like mine. If we start early enough, every child can soar to their God given capabilities and their destiny won’t be decided by how much money and how much capability and how much early education their parents can give them at home before they start school. And so, when this Legislative body decided to fund full-day kindergarten for five days for every child in Montana you started to change the world.

When you saw these children come here today, they’re very special in my heart. They’re third graders. They are the first graduates of Montana’s full-time kindergarten and they represent the future. I want to recognize Erica Henshall their third grade teacher, but I want to embrace Martin Coole who is their kindergarten teacher because there is a special place in heaven for those who teach in kindergarten.

I have some bad news for you, politicians don’t change the world, innovators, ideas, scientists, and engineers change the world. Montana must invest our income today from coal, oil and gas and the energy technologies of the future. We will develop Montana’s energy on Montana’s terms, not as a colony for our energy hungry country. Montana can lead in breaking our addiction to foreign oil, with our coal and oil and wind and gas and hydroelectricity. Let’s build an energy system that’s cleaner and greener, that’s designed in Montana, by Montana engineers and built by Montana labor. Engineers and skilled labor that are trained at Montana’s universities and through our apprenticeship programs.

My proposed budget provides enough money to cap tuition for every college student in Montana going to a Montana college or university for the next two years. Don’t force the burden of a tuition increase on Montana families. A tuition increase is a tax increase. Don’t increase taxes on Montana families, today. Our university system is the incubator of innovation. Innovators trained in Montana will create the jobs of tomorrow in Montana. Now we have two very special guests. First, I want to recognize the head Grizzly from the University of Montana, Royce Engstrom. Stand up, Royce. All right, you Grizzlies, now for the main event, the President of Montana State University, go Bobcats, Waded Cruzado. Oh, I see all of these Justices, University of Montana Law School, not so much on the Bobcat business.

Montana, we must face our challenges and one of our greatest challenges is the cost of healthcare. The Patient Protection Affordable Care act will double the size of the Montana Medicaid program and double its cost. We must do in Montana what Washington, D.C. won’t or can’t. We must challenge every expense in healthcare. Stop redundant testing, fewer procedures at lower costs, best management practices to decrease the number of surgeries, more efficient electronic medical records and Montana, it’s time that we buy world-class medicine at a world price. That’s why we’ve asked for a waiver from Washington, D.C., because you see through the Medicaid program we have a rebate system, through these pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical companies don’t want you, the consumers, to know that they have a rebate program with the state of Montana and other states across the country where we as Medicaid patients are buying our medicine for about twenty-five percent of what you pay for it, or what Medicare pays for it, or what the veterans administration pays for it, or even your insurance company pays for it. We’ve asked the folks in Washington, D.C. to allow every Montanan to buy their prescription drugs through our Medicaid program saving the state of Montana fifty million dollars, saving the federal government one hundred and fifty million dollars and saving all the rest of you about a hundred and seventy-five million dollars. We think that is smart health care and we think that is Montana health care, I hope you’ll support us.

We live in Montana, because we enjoy the outdoors. Our families are drawn closer when we’re on the landscape of the big sky. We cherish our rights to access public lands. I want to thank Speaker Milburn and Senator Kendall Van Dyk, because they were the two that drew Montana together, who built a coalition around stream access so every family in Montana can enjoy our constitutional rights for accessing streams. Thank you for bringing Montana together. And I want to recognize Ed Smith, stand up Ed. He has been elected to this position as Clerk of the Supreme Court for fifty-one years, or so.

I’m proud of the land purchases made under my administration. More fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation for Montana families. It’s about families, mothers, fathers, kids and grandparents, fishing, camping, and hiking together. President Teddy Roosevelt had it right, he said, “The nation behaves well when it treats its natural resources as assets, which must be turned over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it means protection.” We will be judged in this body by what we accomplish, not for the speeches delivered, the frayed nerves, the meetings, late nights, early mornings.

Earnest Hemmingway said, “Never mistake motion for action.” Now, in honor of my grandfather Mike McKernan from County Tyrone and my grandmother Hannah Freel from County Donegal, I’d like to leave you with an Irish blessing. “May you have the hindsight to know where you came from, may you have the foresight to know where you’re going and may you have the insight to know when you’re going too far.” God bless Montana’s families, God bless Montana, and God bless America. Thank you and good evening.

All State of the State Addresses for Montana :