Whether your family has lived in Big Sky Country for decades or youíre a first-generation Montanan, all of us are united by the promise of our Montana values: hard work, rugged independence, and a commitment to join together and lift each other up in the face of adversity.
When we see neighbors working to protect their home from flooding, Montanans donít turn away and pretend not to notice. We grab a few sandbags and go help them out. And we donít stop until the work is done.
There are lessons here for our state lawmakers. From our overflowing rivers to the state Legislature, Montanans want common sense, collaborative solutions. They want a Legislature that works with them to solve problems in their communities, not one that makes it harder to get by.
Thatís why Democratic leaders spent the last six weeks on a statewide tour to visit with Montanans, and itís why we were in Whitefish and Columbia Falls last week to listen to local leaders and working families who know whatís best for the Flathead. We wanted to hear how the Legislature can help solve the problems facing Northwestern Montana, because we know that the best ideas to improve the lives of working people come directly from the people themselves.
As we fight to take back the Legislature in 2018, Democrats already know where weíre going to start:
In Montana, our public lands are our greatest, most valuable resource. They are not only central to who we are as Montanans but also power our $7.1 billion outdoor economy, and Democrats will never back down from our commitment to fight tooth and nail to protect them against any attempts to transfer or sell them.
As the Flathead continues to grow, we want to make sure everyone thrives. That means working to finally pass the critical infrastructure package that has failed to become law during the last two legislative sessions. It also means investing in public safety, support for Montanaís seniors and veterans, and community mental health services that keep our communities safe and prosperous.
And an affordable, quality education and the promise of a brighter future is still out of reach for too many Montanans. Thatís why Democrats will continue to prioritize smart investments in our local K-12 public schools and work to reduce the local property tax burden on working families while making sure that our kids get the education they need to succeed.
We share your frustration about the relentless attacks on and attempts to block access to our precious public lands.
We hear Montanans when they express their frustrations with policies that leave working families behind and that fail to invest in our rural and rapidly growing economies.
Weíve had enough of tax giveaways for millionaires and out-of-state corporations while critical local services crumble and local property taxes go up for hardworking Montanans.
Democrats have a different vision for our great state of Montana: make working families and the interests of everyday Montanans the focus of our legislature again.
Thatís a commitment Democrats arenít afraid to make, because weíre working Montanans ourselves. We know first hand the dignity of working hard for a living, of paying our bills, and supporting our families. We know that when thereís a level playing field and everyone has an equal shot at opportunity, we all do better.
Out here under the Big Sky, we are united by the promise of our Montana values. And we will keep fighting for that promise, just as our parents fought before us, because our children and the next generation of Montanans deserve a bright and fair future.
Eck (Helena) is the Montana House Democratic leader, Sesso (Butte) is the Senate Democratic leader and Fern is a Whitefish Democrat who represents House District 5.