Patrick Barkey, the director of the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, warned of a record-breaking recession that lies at Montana’s front door. Barkey said, “There are parts of the economy right now that have more than recovered. There are pieces of the economy that have never had a year like 2020, on the plus side. But of course, there are many parts of the economy that are still suffering today.”
This is bad news for Montana, who it appears won’t be able to stave off a full-blown recession just becuase of 8 billion in federal COVID-19 funds that have flooded the state. It turns out, government cash can’t replace organic, free-market production.
Barkey spoke at the BBER 2021 Economic Outlook seminar yesterday, and explained, “It wasn’t a crisis of confidence. It wasn’t bankruptcies and failures of real estate and so forth, like the Great Recession. Rather, someone put a big padlock on the economy and said ‘You can’t come here.’ There are many, many consumption options that simply were not available.”
As the Montana Daily Gazette reported at the time, it was Governor Bullock who put a padlock on the state’s economy and told people not to come. Literally, Bullock’s Department of Commerce put out PSAs asking tourists not to come to Montana last summer, despite tourism being the state’s largest industry (even ahead of agriculture). Bullock also locked down at least one Montana tourism town and he funded billboards along the Interstate telling tourists to “mask up” while fishing.
And there’s been plenty of warning that Montana is headed for a recession, as the Gazette reported back in April of 2020 that economists were warning it would take years to get the state back on track.
Barkey went on, “It has been more of a jobs recession than an income recession for Montana, but it has been a painful recession. When you look at the kinds of people who have been affected by this, you can see it’s a changing story.”
Despite the Republican Party platform saying that the growth of government should not exceed the growth of hte private sector, Gianforte is continuing to promote a giant payraise pushed by Montana House RINO, Julie Dooling (“R”-Helena).
HB13 passed the Montana House upon its third reading on January 29. The bill will give 11 thousand state employees a 55 cent raise at the same time the overwhelming majority of Montanans have received pay-cuts and are having to tighten their belts.
The bill is now in the Montana Senate, where it will likely pass from a combination vote of left-leaning Republicans, Democrats, and even right-wing “conservatives” who are trying to please Governor Gianforte.
Some have suggested that Gianforte’s support for the fiscally irresponsible measure is an attempt to get the labor unions “out of the halls” of the legislature so the rest of Gianforte’s ostensibly more conservative agenda can be focused upon for the remainder of the session.
Brad Tschida, a solid conservative in the Montana House, said, “This is a gross injustice to working, private sector employees in Montana. Any Republican who votes for this does so at their own peril.”
Unfortunately, many of those Republicans are former conservatives, wanting to appease a governor elected because of his purported conservatism.