State Focus

Just before Thanksgiving, the Montana Policy Institute held its annual conference for state legislators and other interested citizens in the state capital of Helena.

MPI is one of the state-based, free-market oriented think tanks that has sprung up in the past few years, and it and its fellows are now more relevant than ever. Many conservatives, depressed over the condition of Washington, DC,  are shifting their attention to states and localities in the hope that these can be islands of sanity in a political world that is increasingly disconnected from reality, and the state organizations are an excellent resource.

The State Policy Network has a list of useful organizations, including at least one in each state.

Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, who gave the keynote at the MPI conference, expressed a common reaction to the election, as quoted in an MPI news story on the event:

"One of the things that makes me furious about this election is that five hundred million dollars was spent by Super PACs and organizations like that, that spent the money incredibly inefficiently, ” spoke Moore. “I make the case that they flushed the money down the toilet. A lot of this money that was spent, I’m not going to name names, but these Super PACs that raised hundreds of millions of dollars, they had almost no impact what so ever."

Moore suggested that instead of throwing money at advertisements, conservative leaders should have better used the money in organizations like MPI, which look to achieve real change in their states.

Recent studies from MPI include:

The Montana Supreme Court vs. The Rule of Law

There is a consensus among researchers that adherence to the rule of law is crucial to vigorous economic growth. Montana’s economy has lagged the economy of most of the United States since the 1980s, and this MPI Study explains one reason why: The Montana Supreme Court, the final authority in the state on most legal questions, has not honored the rule of law. Its failure to do so has harmed wealth and job creation in Montana.

2012 Montana Pig Tales

Pig Tales highlights Big Government and Big Spending in the Treasure State and provides a one-stop shopping guide to state government issues, including pensions, taxation, public employee compensation, and much more.

 Montana’s Education Funding Study

This study endeavors to help parents and policymakers better understand a complex education funding system in order to more effectively evaluate education policy in the future. Our hope is that Montana’s primary and secondary education system is not only the best in the nation in terms of academic performance, but also the most efficiently managed and administered in terms of dollars and cents. Our children and taxpayers deserve no less.

Public vs. Private Compensation Study

This new analysis from the Montana Policy Institute compares employees of similar personal and professional characteristics in both the public and private sectors of Montana. . . .  It also analyzes total compensation (which the state fails to do), including take-home pay as well as fringe benefits. . . . This report details the methodology and finds that public employees in Montana actually earn over 15 percent more than comparable employees in the state’s private sector.


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  • John_Frank

    James, thank you for bringing this information to our attention.

  • CBDenver

    I read the article on the Montana Supreme Court.  It described how the hallmarks of a good judicial system are clarity, stability, notice, fairness, and restraint.  The authors then went on to show through recent examples how the Montana Supreme Court violates those principles.  Justices in Montana routinely overrule their own previous decisions (violating stability), make decisions apply retroactively (violating notice),  and make rulings even where the state constitution is unclear (violating restraint). 

    But the most disturbing are the descriptions of how the Montana Supreme Court violates judicial fairness.  Multiple cases are described where either legislation or ballot initiatives were passed to limit government and/or judicial power.  In each case the court showed overturned the attempts to limit power using arbitrary reasoning not consitent with the law.  The reason this is disturbing is that it shows that reforming the system is nearly impossible.  

    When the courts have the power to overturn any legislation that seeks to limit their power, the courts become completely unrestrained.  The outcome is a society that is governed by "might makes right" rather than the rule of law.  As Montana is just an example of what is happening across the country, I don’t think this is going to end well.

  • misterlogic0013

    Important information a model to follow .. States rights a corner stone to victory in getting GOV back on the side of the people .. best is, its a real possibility in the wake of the GOP disaster 2012.  possibly quite possibly we are making the turn .. lets pray ..

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