Today MEA-MFT engaged in bill hearings that impact thousands of MEA-MFT members and other public employees across Montana.
House State Administration heard two bills, one good HB 136 (Custer), and one nasty HB 155 (G. Hertz).
HB 136 (Custer) requires the state to increase its share of funding the defined benefit Game Wardens’ and Peace Officers’ Retirement System by 2% in order to meet our state constitution’s directive that our public employee retirement systems be actuarially funded. MEA-MFT member correctional and probation and parole officers are embraced in this system.
Yesterday, Jan. 11, the House Education heard and passed HB 191 (Berglee).
HB 191 is – or certainly should be – the k-12 school funding bill for this session. It is NOT however the governor’s bill. The governor’s bill is HB 12 (Woods). More about HB 12 later, but simply stated, it gives with one hand and takes away with another.
HB 191 is a real funding bill consistent with the legislature’s work over the last several sessions to better fund our public schools.
As introduced, HB 136 is an MEA-MFT bill.
HB 155 (G. Hertz) deprives state and local government employees of a holiday every other year on general election day. This is not the first time a legislator has proposed to eliminate this holiday. I do not expect HB 155 to pass but it is an annoyance if not another disparaging slap at public employees. No one other than the sponsor testified in favor.
Senate Taxation heard SB 85 (Moe), the necessary bill that comes up every 10 years to place the Montana University System 6 mill levy on the 2018 general election ballot. This bill must pass and it will. But then not so long down the road we must work with the people of Montana to renew their property tax commitment to Montana higher education.