Posted: Jul 12, 2013 7:45 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - Montana governor Steve Bullock has now been in office just over six months; when he took the oath of office in January, he promised to make Montana an even better place to live.
Now after digging his heels in and getting to work he is not only busier than he expected, but says that he's also having more fun.
Bullock said, "It's great. I think I really do have the greatest job not only in Montana but as I talk to some of my colleagues in other states in America, it provides an incredible opportunity to really wake up each day and say, what all can you do in public service?"
He's proud of the state's budget: it's balanced and there is a projected $300 million surplus.
Bullock is also pleased with the financial investment in education and funding the state's $4 billion pension deficit without raising taxes.
However, he is still frustrated that the Legislature didn't reform campaign finance laws, and most importantly he wishes the Legislature would have expanded Medicaid.
Bullock said, "That would have been the opportunity to create 5,000 new jobs next year alone, provide insurance coverage for 75,000 more Montanans, and start fundamentally reforming the way we provide healthcare. That's a missed opportunity."
Republicans say this is one of Bullock's flaws, and that his support of "Obamacare" could cost the state billions of dollars.
But with that said, they are happy with other aspects of Bullock's leadership.
Bowen Greenwood, director of Montana Republican Party, said, "There certainly was a better working relationship in the Legislature between the legislators and the governor than there was when Brian Schweitzer was governor, a lot more politeness and respect. But on the other hand there was no tax cuts for Montanans. That was very disappointing for a lot of people. Montana runs a budget surplus. We don't need all the money we are taking in. There should have been tax cuts and there weren't."
But even under the microscope, Bullock says he loves his job and he wouldn't trade it for anything.