The state’s lone Democratic gubernatorial candidate would have voted in support of developing the Otter Creek Coal Tracts, unlike his expected rival in the 2012 Democratic gubernatorial primary- Attorney General Steve Bullock. Bullock is rumored to soon be jumping into the 2012 race. This, as longtime state employee Pam Bucy is rumored to be seeking the Attorney General’s post.
Bullock, in his role as a member of the State Land Board, voted against developing the Otter Creek Coal Tracts. State Sen. Dave Wanzenreid (D-Missoula) said he, like Bullock, would have pressed for a higher bid price on the coal, but in the end- when that higher bid was not accepted, says he would have voted in support of developing the coal tracts.
The Governor also has a seat on the Land Board. The current term-limited Governor, Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), voted in support of developing the coal tracts and enjoys approval ratings topping 60%. That effort brought in an initial $86 million into state coffers.
As to why he supports developing the coal tracts, Wanzenreid cited the rising costs of education, and the impacts of the federal health care bill on the state budget.
Click below to listen to audio from Monday’s “Voices of Montana” as Wanzenreid joined me as a guest on the show. (Bullock in his first two years as Attorney General has so far refused to be a guest on the show.)
“We can’t continue to expect families to pay more for that education. We just can’t. We’re going to price ourselves out of the market. That costs money. We arent going to be able to keep up with that growth market without a signiifcant infusion of revenue. The national health care reform act has more people in eligiblility for Medicaid, for example. So we’re going to have to have more revenue. Unless somebody can show me a different way to grow the economy fairly rapidly to keep up with that growth curve, resource development is going to have to be a source of revenue to pay for those things.”
Click to Listen