Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Joining Wisconsin, Montanans Protest Tea Party Assault On Workers And Environment


Protests over the radical Tea Party agenda have spilled over from Wisconsin into Montana, where hundreds rallied on the state capitol steps on Monday. Republicans gained control over both chambers of the state legislature in 2010, and, like their colleagues in other states, are challenging Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) with budgetary plans to cut health, environmental, and labor programs in order to pay for corporate tax cuts. Supporters of a safe and healthy middle class rallied in Helena yesterday to protest the “unprecedented GOP attacks on public services and education and laws that protect land, air, water and wildlife”:

Conservationists, sportsmen, firefighters, teachers, correctional officers and others gathered for a pair of rallies on the Capitol’s north lawn and demanded that Republicans focus more on creating jobs and less on ramming through controversial bills and budget cuts aimed at slashing government employees and rolling back bedrock environmental laws.

Montana Republicans are pushing:

– A bill by State Sen. Chas Vincent (R-MT) to gut the Montana Environmental Policy Act because, Vincent says, it’s what “venture capitalists” need.

– A bill by State Rep. Scott Reichner (R-MT) to slash workers’ compensation insurance because “businesses are being crushed.”

– A bill by State Rep. Walter McNutt (R-MT) to close the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls.

– A bill by State Sen. Jason Priest (R-MT) to prevent the establishment of a state health insurance exchange.

– Bills by State Rep. Joe Read (R-MT) to declare global warming “natural” and “beneficial,” and to prevent the EPA from enforcing climate pollution rules.

– Bills to slash health programs like vaccination, water safety, anti-smoking, child nutrition, and the Montana Healthy Kids health insurance program for children.

– A $32 million cut to higher education in the state.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing bills to cut or eliminate taxes on corporations.

Update - Protesters in Ohio and Indiana have also descended on their state capitols to defend workers' rights.

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