Helena Awash in Sidney’s Cash

Aaron Flint posted on December 09, 2013 15:20 :: 1087 Views

Montana state government is awash in cash coming from the Sidney area, and yet, as the state brags about the latest revenue numbers, the outgoing mayor says he feels betrayed. 

MTPR.org has this:

Eastern Montana’s economy continues to see a surge due to oil and gas development. Unemployment in the counties closest to the Bakken Oil Boom averages almost two percent below the state average. The oil industry brought in $200 million in tax revenue to the state and local governments last year alone. But all that activity comes with a cost, too, and Eastern Montana communities are feeling some of the biggest impacts.

“It aggravates me, it’s a betrayal. I had a promise that it would be signed, that we would get some help from this Governor,” Smelser said.

He’s talking about a bill from the 2013 Legislature, House Bill 218. It would have provided $35 million dollars to Eastern Montana oil boom towns for their infrastructure needs. It passed both the Montana House and Senate with huge majorities. Smelser said the city of Sidney made calculated decisions to move forward with some projects.

I’ve often stated that elected officials in Montana are taking state revenues for granted, giving themselves and the press corps a false sense of economic security.  Sometimes I get the feeling that as long as state tax revenues are strong- then all is great in the economy in their eyes, despite the fact that many families are struggling. 

While oil and gas dollars help fill state coffers, Slate.com, a liberal website, cites data showing that Montana is starting to fall behind economically:

Every month, the Philadelphia branch of the Federal Reserve publishes a look at coincident economic indicators by each state to show which states are thriving and which are now.

The economic data has shown improvement in 45 states. Only five are seeing shrinking right now.

Of the five that are shrinking right now- Montana is on the list.

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