Wherever they live in our state, Montanans need access to affordable healthcare. We must ensure Medicaid expansion – which provides access to affordable healthcare for tens of thousands of Montanans – continues into the future. Medicaid expansion also provides important revenue for our state’s rural hospitals and health care facilities which they need to operate.
Many Montanans live and cope with medical illnesses, such as diabetes or asthma, which insurance companies classify as ‘preexisting conditions. Medicaid expansion prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with these illnesses or conditions. It also does away with dollar caps on insurance coverage.
We also need to continue our support of medical programs that train physicians in Montana, as many of those newly-trained doctors decide to stay and practice in our state.
Women should continue to have access to all medical procedures, including abortion. There is simply no reason to deny any woman the ability to make a decision regarding her healthcare, or to limit her options. Medical decisions should be the purview of the patient, their physician, and their loved ones.
A first-rate public education system that is adequately funded is critical to Montana’s success and future. Our children, as well as young and older adults, need the education and training necessary to compete and transition into today’s work places. The universities and colleges across our state need to be affordable to all Montanans.
The data is in, and the states that have Early Education / Pre-Kindergarten programs are seeing both short and long-term benefits. Our state is one of the few that does not offer Early Education programs, something we need to change. These pre-kindergarten programs benefit children by enhancing the development of their literacy and math skills, as well as their social skills. This prepares our children for success in education / school.
Pre-K programs can also benefit parents by giving them the gift of time as well as economic support.
This provides them the opportunity to return to work and/or pursue their own education.
Our public lands are owned and utilized by all of us; they need to be accessible and to remain in public ownership. We are extremely fortunate to have an abundance of public lands in Montana that afford us numerous opportunities for recreation. From hiking and camping, to hunting, fishing, boating, snowmobiling and skiing – the choices are endless. Our public lands need to be managed for multiple uses, and to continue to provide benefits to us all.
It’s about the economy! We need public policies that promote businesses and industries that employ Montanans and pay wages that allow their employees to both enjoy the benefits of living here, e.g. decent affordable housing, a clean and healthy environment, a myriad of recreational opportunities, great schools, and good neighbors.
We need to support small-business owners; these businesses are the backbone of our economy, and provide jobs and services to multitudes of Montanans. While large corporations do not typically need tax breaks, tax breaks/incentives can be essential for small businesses to grow and prosper.
Unions have also held a special place in Montana’s history, and are important for our present and future growth. They exist to represent workers, and negotiate for fair wages and working conditions.
They’ve been instrumental in securing the working conditions we all enjoy – holidays, sick leave, a five-day work week, and apprenticeship programs – and they will be essential to our workers’ growth and health in workplaces across our state. Management also benefits from unions, as they provide a one-stop shop for bargaining, hearing of grievances, and conditions for employment.
LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. All individuals must be able to pursue their dreams, no matter their race, gender, religious or personal beliefs.
We have to recognize and understand that indigenous peoples were the first caretakers of our state. We need to acknowledge their rights as sovereign nations. We should partner with the tribes to utilize their extensive knowledge and abilities to manage our natural resources, as well as grow our respective economies.
The climate is undeniably changing, due to our impacts. There is no shortage of evidence to this fact. We are seeing impacts across our state, as we experience record-breaking droughts and ever-growing wildfires. These environmental catastrophes threaten our way of life and severely impact our economy. We must act now to mitigate the most extreme climate impacts to our future; to do so it’s imperative we move to a clean energy economy as soon as possible. A new energy economy that is sustainable and based on renewable resources will provide new jobs and opportunities for workers. However, we cannot forget those workers in the fossil fuel energy industry, and we must provide for their needs as we transition.
The cheapest available energy option is still conservation, and the state should encourage and lead efforts to conserve energy in both residential and commercial/industrial settings.
Paid for by Steenberg for Senate
Senator Diane Sands, Treasurer