It’s pragmatism. It’s politics. But it’s not conservatism.
Rep. Julie Dooling (“R”-HD37) is slated to present a bill on Wednesday that will give a pay raise to state employees. Sources speaking with the Montana Gazette allege that Governor Gianforte will support the measure when it eventually makes its way to his desk with the support of the Democrat-crossover voters in the Republican Party led by Llew Jones.
Republican legislators who vote in line with the party platform, however, are currently infuriated with the deviation from stated party goals.
The platform reads, “only allow the growth of government to match the growth of the private sector.”
Obviously, Dooling’s proposed legislation will do the opposite of the party platform to raise public liability and government size during a major statewide recession caused by the government’s overreaction to COVID-19. It will be interesting to watch how Montana House Speaker, Wylie Galt, will navigate the waters between a governor who is rumored to support a wage-hike in a recession and the party platform that forbids it.
For Republicans who are distraught over the matter, for good cause, there is probably an explanation as explained to the Gazette by conservative legislators: Gianforte does not want to begin his tenure (or the legislative session) at war with the powerful government employee and teacher’s union. One legislator told the Gazette, “It’s not that I agree with it, but it’s Gianforte’s way of getting the unions out of the hallways. You know, give them what they want at the start of the session and get them out of the capitol as soon as possible to get on to business. That’s the reason for this nonsense.”
Another conservative legislator offered to the Gazette a compromise: Conservatives need to tell Gianforte that if he wants his government pay-raise to “give us our economy back.” Their solution was to find a compromise on this issue in exchange for Governor Gianforte repealing mask mandates and social distancing requirements that are the cause of the Montana recession and hope the best for the future.
“Leverage is important,” they said, “and the thing we have to leverage is action on the very thing giving us a recession. If we can open up our economy, a pay-raise may not bankrupt Montana. But if we don’t immediately open up the economy, statewide pay-raises are best offered by Democrats and defeated by Republicans.”