The more we watch the Legislature, the more you have to ask yourself, who do Bitterroot Valley legislators represent? It’s not the people in the Bitterroot. Not most of them anyway.
They continue to vote down expansion of Medicaid despite living in a county with nearly 22% of people not having insurance. When you look at the high number of retired people in Ravalli County covered by Medicare, you have to figure that a large portion of our workforce is currently uninsured. That means charity care at our local hospital is high…. which it is. So high in fact that the hospital board of directors passed a resolution in support of Medicaid expansion noting it would help their finances. Since the hospital is the largest employer in the county, you’d think they’d be a bit more open-minded about expanding Medicaid… but nope.
In floor debate yesterday, Democrats attempted many, many times to add amendments to the GOP’s budget bill, HB2. None of them passed. Almost all of them were voted down along strict party lines. You can’t tell me that not a single one of them were worth supporting. They voted down everything from early education to properly funding the office of the public defender. If you’re poor, you’re getting no love from the Legislature this time around.
And in Ravalli County, odds are you’re poor. We have an unemployment rate nearly twice the state average. (I’ll discuss this further in another post.) That means we’ve got a lot of people out of work. It doesn’t take much to realize that we’ve also got a lot of people underemployed as well.
The Republican budget as it stands right now guts services to poor people in an effort to extend tax breaks to businesses and rich people. And then there’s the fact that the governor has said he’ll veto it unless it’s changed.
So who are they representing? Are they doing what’s best for the people of the Bitterroot? I don’t see how they can claim that they are.