Montana Legislator Decries Cuts and Communication of ‘Imperial Governor’
Montana Senator Al Olszewski serves on the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee and says the Governor and leadership of the State Department of Public Health and Human Services have had severe communication problems with the legislative branch.
"The agency was just going to do a straight across the board cut of 5.4 percent and we said whoa, whoa, based on legislative intent and the law that's over double of what was expected or what we anticipated," Olszewsik said. "We started with an informal objection and they refused to acknowledge us and didn't answer us."
Olszewski says the communication issue is so severe, it guts the committee’s ability to provide true oversight.
"We only have true oversight if we are respected by the executive branch," Olszewski said. "Right now, what I see as a legislator is that we are just merely an annoyance for our imperial governor who says 'you know what, when you're in town for 90 days we'll tolerate you, but when you're gone, even though you have interim committees, we'll just ignore you."
Public officials aren’t the only ones decrying the way the cuts have been handled, facilitators of care, especially in the mental health field have expressed dismay at the short notice of the cuts as well as their focus on certain programs, like direct care where cuts have been so severe it has triggered program closures across the state.