In 2015, left-leaning Republican State Senator Ed Buttrey introduced Senate Bill 405
to expand Medicaid coverage in Montana for four years. The sunset on the legislation is June 2019.
The constitutionally correct way to resolve the sunset of SB405 is legislatively, since Medicaid expansion is an ongoing appropriations matter. Instead, and in potential violation of the Montana Constitution, a ballot measure known as I-185 is being put before voters this November. Ballot language and the complete text of I-185 can be found here.
Voters should reject I-185 for the following reasons:
Ongoing appropriations are a matter for the Legislature. Locking in the present legislation prevents lawmakers from evaluating, modifying, improving, and even eliminating parts of the legislation which could make it more effective and efficient overall.
Declining revenues are the funding mechanism for this appropriation. To quote directly from the ballot language: "Revenues may decline as fewer people use tobacco.”
The estimated revenues from a declining revenue source will not cover the projected costs of Medicaid expansion, creating an unfunded mandate.
ALL taxpayers, not just tobacco users, will eventually be responsible for making up funding deficits as revenues decline.
Regressive taxation takes a larger share of income from those who can least afford it: lower-income taxpayers.
Only $26 Million of any taxes collected will go to Medicaid expansion funding. Disposition of the remaining taxes collected will go to the General Fund, creating an unaccountable, bureaucratic mess.
Vague terminology such as "health and medicaid initiatives” opens the door for broad interpretation and potential misuse of funds. Additionally waste, fraud, and abuse has already been a problem in the Medicaid expansion program.
Montana is unable to afford the increasing costs of Medicaid expansion. It is time for government to live within its means and reduce dependency on government programs. The effort to avoid that by imposing a punitive tax is morally repugnant. Please reject I-185 by voting NO.
Visit NO on I-185 for more information.
Paid for by: Montanans for Limited Government
Kathy Kay, Treasurer
PO Box 1154, Lolo, MT 59847