Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Why couldn't the state come up with money to deal with the brucellosis slaughter?

When the special session was called to deal with fire-fighting costs, it was understandable that efforts would be made to keep the session from packing all sorts of spending into that session.

But one other disaster struck Montana this year that could and should have been dealt with at the same time: brucellosis.

Jim and Sandy Morgan this week appealed to the governor for more help from the state than they received. The federal government came up significantly short on what they should have reimbursed, as we have discussed at MH before.

Our own local blogger over at Karbon Kounty Moos was also up in Helena, telling her own part in the story, and we hope she gave them an earful.

We learn from the governor's comments that he can't do much because spending is controlled by the legislature. This is true as far as it goes, although perhaps the governor could eliminate that intern position and use the money to help defray costs for the Morgans and Hergenreider.

But if this is the answer that the executive branch knew it was going to give -- namely, "blame the legislature for a problem that hadn't happened yet when it was in session" -- there happens to have been a recent special session, and the impact of the brucellosis problem was hardly a secret.

One suspects that if the governor had asked the legislature to create a fund to help reimburse ranchers who have to have their entire herds slaughtered-- he would have gotten the money.

We know that the governor has a background in agriculture -- after all, he even talks about health-care from the back of a horse when in campaign commercials. And so the governor knows that the impact brucellosis on Montana's most important industry is huge -- no less important and urgent than fighting wildfires.

And given that the whole state benefits from fighting brucellosis, its cost shouldn't be disproportionately borne by one or two ranchers.

Badly done -- one hopes that the next legislature will address this issue, even though it will be too late for any rancher caught in the middle between now and 2009.


craig said...

Karen certainly did them an earful.

I don't know if anyone was listening, but she gave 'em hell.

Montana Headlines said...

Strong work, Karen.