Montana Pig Tales

Once upon a time there was a wonderful land with untold riches. This land had fertile soil to grow more food than the locals could eat, gems and minerals that were sought after worldwide, trees for their houses and abundant fuel for their stoves. This wonderful land was filled with opportunity, and happy families prospered with each generation better off than the previous.
There were also helpful folks in the land’s Capitol City who worked for the happy families and did the kinds of things that everyone could benefit from. They built roads and schools and made sure everybody played by the same rules. And they kept the king in far-away DC Land from trying to run their lives. But then something happened, something awful and selfish.

The people in DC Land and Capitol City stopped working for the happy families and started ruling over them. They grew larger and larger and decided to regulate and tax and dictate more and more parts of the happy families’ lives. The land of opportunity became a land of limitations. Laws were passed to protect people from themselves instead of just from each other. Rules were made keeping the happy families from using all the riches that the land offered and pitting them against each other. The land with untold riches became one of the poorest in the kingdom. The happy families could no longer pass on opportunities they had enjoyed. And so the once-happy land got older and poorer, until finally the only people who could enjoy its beauty came from other places. The land of opportunity became a land of futility. And the once happy families were scattered to the winds.

Montana is still that happy land of opportunity, but we won’t pass that heritage along to our kids if we continue the current path of bigger government, more regulation, and control by Washington bureaucrats. We still have the riches that made Montana the Treasure State, but we’re losing the legacy of opportunity that those riches could provide. We increasingly have a government that has become its own special interest instead of our employee. And we’re being tied down with one size fits all solutions that may be great for New York or Mississippi, but not for Montana.

Welcome to “Pig Tales: Wasted Treasure in the Treasure State” — a one-stop shopping guide to Montana government. This is the second in a biennial look at Montana state government, our people, and our opportunities.

Our simple goal is help provide as much useful information as possible so that as the people who represent us make decisions that affect our lives and our families, we will have a confident and informed voice. Enjoy the tale!

Click here for full PDF (8MB!)

Interested in a hard copy or two? We’ll have them for purchase right here coming soon. Can’t wait? Call us at 406-219-0508 to place your order or email us at info@montanapolicy.org. In order to break even, we will be charging $3.50 for quantities up to 10 and $3.00/copy for quantities over 10. These prices include shipping and handling.

Public vs. Private Sector Compensation in Montana (2012)

By Glenn Oppel, MPI Policy Director

Click here for full study. (PDF – 4MB)

The State Human Resources Division (Division) of the Montana Department of Administration plays a key role in the adoption of a pay plan for state employees in Montana. It is for all intents and purposes the sole source of data on compensation used by policymakers and agency managers. Unfortunately, the data the Division produces is based on a flawed methodology and limited data.

The Division conducts a salary survey of Montana and surrounding states on a biennial basis to arrive at a private sector comparison for occupations and offices in state government. With the most recent survey, the Division determined that on average a majority of the public sector occupations studied have earnings that are 13.3 percent below what they call the “market midpoint.” The Division’s methodology is open to criticism on a number of points:

• Many positions in the public sector have no private-sector equivalent. Correctional officers and fire fighters, for instance, have no direct private sector equivalent. Comparing occupations like these to a “market midpoint” yields very little useful information.

• Comparing earnings among occupations does not account for the differences in age, education, and experience for the employees who work in these occupations.

• The Division’s analysis doesn’t include the value of employee benefits — health insurance, paid leave, pension, etc. — which make up a considerable portion of public employee compensation.

This new analysis from the Montana Policy Institute compares employees of similar personal and professional characteristics in both the public and private sectors of Montana. Instead of comparing pay in broad occupational categories, this report uses regression analysis to compare public and private employees of similar work experience, education, gender, race, and disability status. It also analyzes total compensation (which the state fails to do), including take-home pay as well as fringe benefits.

This report details the methodology and finds that public employees in Montana actually earn over 15 percent more than comparable employees in the state’s private sector.

How Business Friendly Are Montana’s 25 Largest Cities? – 2012 Report

Note: Updated with official full study on November 8, 2012.

By John Hill, PhD, President, American Indicators

In order to excel in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, Montana must be as attractive as possible to businesses wishing to relocate to or expand in the state. There are numerous state level comparisons of Montana’s business friendliness to inform policymakers in Helena. The same sort of report dedicated to comparing major cities and towns in Montana simply doesn’t exist. Cities and towns are the real engines that drive the statewide economy and Montanans should consider how they compare against each other with respect to economic, social, and educational factors attractive to businesses.

The Montana Policy Institute (MPI) and American Indicators have collected data on Montana’s 25 most populous incorporated areas and ranked them based on criteria that both ensure business success and protect the entrepreneurial spirit.

The three categories ranked are:
  • Economic Vitality
  • Business Tax Burden
  • Community Allure

In summary, this report looks at a number of factors:
  • What cities have the best tax policy?
  • Which have more community allure, such as low costs of living and low crime rates?
  • What cities have experienced the most yearover-year population and job growth?
  • What type of economic vitality do cities have, including the average incomes for local residents?

These and other questions are answered in this report.

Click here for the full study (PDF – 3MB)

Limits of Wind Power Study (10/2012)

MPI and the Reason Foundation analyze claims about the cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits of wind power.
As Montana’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requires electric utilities to obtain more and more generation from “renewable” sources like wind, policymakers must reevaluate the economic and environmental benefits. Wind blows at speeds that vary considerably, leading to wide variations in power output at different times and in different locations. To address this variability, power supply companies must install backup capacity, which kicks in when demand exceeds supply from the wind turbines; failure to do so will adversely affect grid reliability. The need for this backup capacity significantly increases the cost of producing power from wind. Since backup power in most cases comes from fossil fuel generators, this effectively limits the carbon-reducing potential of new wind capacity. For full study, see below.

For PDF: Limits of Wind Power Study

Teen Unemployment and The Minimum Wage Study (2012)

Click here for full study (PDF – 4MB)

By Glenn Oppel, MPI Policy Director

As the Great Recession persists, unemployment remains a key concern in Montana and the nation as a whole. Although the jobs situation in Montana is somewhat better than the national average, the unemployment rate for working-age teens (16-19) is historically very high. Moreover, fewer and fewer teens are actually entering the workforce.

Figures provided by the U.S. Census Bureau demonstrate that teen employment prospects are dismal:

• Between 2006 and 2011, the teenage unemployment rate in Montana almost doubled from 10.2% to 19.4%. The highest rate for that period was 24% in 2010.

• Montana teens with less than a high school education have seen their unemployment rate double from 10.4% in 2006 to 20.8% in 2011.

• The average hours worked per week for Montana teens fell from 12.1 to 8 hours – a decrease
of 34%.

• The percentage of Montana teenagers who have a job declined from 48.2% in 2006 to 36.6%
in 2011.

• From 2006 to 2011, teen employment share in all industries dropped from 6.3% to 4.2%; in leisure and hospitality from 18.9% to 13.9%; in retail trade from 10.2% to 5.2%; and for all other services from 4% to 1.6%.

A recent analysis of state-specific employment effects of the minimum wage finds that increases in the federal and state minimum wage rates have accelerated this trend. According to simulations run as part of this analysis, increases in the minimum wage from the base of $5.15 in 2006 to $7.35 in 2011 cost Montana teenagers 1,178 jobs . Teen jobless rates could get even worse as Montana’s minimum wage is adjusted annually to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) despite job market realities or unemployment trends. Montana’s 2012 minimum wage rate is currently $7.65 and will increase to $7.80 in 2013 if the CPI continues to hover at close to two percent.

Minimum wage proponents may see annual increases as “raises” to poorer workers. What they fail to realize is that minimum wage increases serve as a tax on employers that would otherwise employ more low or unskilled workers if not for higher labor costs. This is especially true for working-age teens as our issue brief will show. Policymakers in Washington, DC and Helena should consider the disproportionate impact that minimum wage increases have on our youth as they struggle to find their first job.

The Montana Economy: How Will Climate Change Legislation Impact Economic and Job Growth Study (2010)

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT:

Montana has fared relatively better in the current recession compared to other states. If climate policy bills like Waxman/Markey (H.R. 2454) or Kerry/Boxer (S. 1733) are enacted, economic recovery from the current recession will be impeded as business and households face rising energy prices. In the longer term, Montana’s real GDP, employment, industrial output, state budget revenues and household income will fall relative to the baseline forecast. As state policymakers consider legislation to reduce U. S. GHG emissions, they need to consider that the cost of reducing emissions is likely to exert significant drag on the state’s economy.

 

Congress is now debating far-reaching energy legislation that would impose an aggressive “cap-and-trade” system on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and mandate high levels of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

o Cap-and-trade is a regulatory system for mandating increasingly lower emissions of GHG. Regulated entities must purchase emission allowances from the government for each ton of GHG emitted. Unused emission allowances can be bought or sold (“traded”) by any person.

o The U.S. House of Representatives’ bill, known as Waxman-Markey, and the Senate version, known as Kerry-Boxer, would cap GHGs beginning in 2012 and become increasingly aggressive, requiring as much as a 20 percent reduction of 2005 levels in 2020 and, finally, an 83 percent reduction in 2050.

o Energy efficiency provisions would impose “energy saving mandates” across all sectors of the economy.

o Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) proposed in the legislation would dictate that states generate 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

 

Despite the current recession, Montana has seen employment gains that have fared the state better than the U.S. as a whole. However, if pending federal energy legislation is enacted, Montana will face a declining economy and increasing unemployment.

o Montana’s employment, gross state product, industrial output, state budget revenues and household income will fall.

o Employment: By 2030, as emission reduction targets tighten and the free allocation of permits and generous carbon offsets phase out, Montana would stand to lose between 4,964 and 6,761 jobs. The primary cause is lower industrial output due to higher energy prices, the high cost of complying with required emissions cuts and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with less stringent emissions requirements.

o Gross State Product: Higher energy prices, fewer jobs and loss of industrial output are estimated to reduce Montana’s GSP by as much as $900 million to $1.2 billion in 2030.

o Industrial Output: Montana is likely to experience a decrease in manufacturing output. Overall manufacturing output declines by 5.1 percent in the low-cost case and by 5.8 percent in the high-cost case. Two important energy-intensive sectors, nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing and primary metal manufacturing, would fall considerably, declining by up to 24 percent in 2030. Coal production would fall by 94 to 96 percent.

o State Budget Revenues: Since Montana typically receives about 10 cents of every dollar of income generated in the state, projected declines in GSP would result in a $49 to $65 million reduction in state tax revenues. Paired with higher energy prices, this will reduce state budget receipts and force Montana policymakers to make hard choices about how to fund basic services, such as law enforcement and schools.

o Household Income: Disposable income would fall by an average of $414 to $764 in 2030. Low-income families and the elderly, who spend a disproportionate amount of their income on energy, will be especially hurt.

Montana’s economy has benefited from growth in mining and related industries, enabling the state to fare better in the current economic climate. Mining, however, is particularly vulnerable to adverse impacts from federal climate change bills.

o The Montana economy actually grew in 2008—at a rate of 1.8 percent — compared to the U.S. economy, which only grew at a rate of 0.7 percent in 2008. Employment also grew in Montana at a rate of 1.7 percent in 2008.

o Montana’s real per capita GSP grew 25 percent in the last decade, five percent more than the national growth in that period.

o In the past 10 years, employment in Montana’s mining industry grew by 68.4 percent – that is nearly double the growth of the mining industry in the United States over the same time period.

o According to a study by commissioned by the National Mining Association, the mining industry contributed 16,220 jobs and $3 billion to the state’s economy in 2007.

o Montana is a substantial oil producing state and is responsible for nearly two percent of U.S. production. According to a 2009 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the oil and natural gas industry supported 34,210 jobs and contributed $3.3 billion to the Montana economy in 2007.

 

Multiple economic analyses show that these federal energy bills would increase the price of electricity, gasoline and natural gas. Consequently, economic productivity, employment and household income would decline.

o To meet the stringent emissions targets of Waxman-Markey, electric companies would have to substitute high-cost technologies for conventional generation, increasing prices for Montana families and businesses.

o Energy prices in Montana, a state which now depends on coal (the energy source most at risk under mandatory greenhouse gas emission caps) for 63 percent of electricity generation, would rise higher than many other states.

o By 2030 the price of gasoline would increase by as much as 27 percent, electricity up to 61 percent and natural gas up to 78 percent.

o Faced with skyrocketing energy costs, decreasing production and greater competition from overseas manufacturers without these pressures, Montana businesses will have no choice but to cut thousands of jobs.

o Montana’s 967 schools and universities and 65 hospitals will likely experience a 18.1 percent to 27.9 percent increase in energy expenditures by 2030. For government entities, costs for services, including public transportation and vehicle fleets, such as school buses, would also rise.

o Montana’s current relatively favorable electricity prices are an important factor in the state’s ability to keep business costs low and thus, attract new sources of employment.

 

At a time when margins are running thin on family budgets, the average Montana family will experience higher energy costs, leaving less income to be spent on other necessities.

o The average Montana family would see their home energy costs go up 61 percent by 2030.

o The ripple effect of higher energy prices would impose a financial hardship on Montana households with disposable income being reduced by $414 to $764 in 2030.

o Because they spend a greater share of their income on energy costs, low-income families, including elderly residents on fixed incomes, will suffer disproportionately from the effects of this legislation.

We all want a clean environment. Most of us live in Montana because we love our Big Sky and the beautiful land beneath it. But those shrill voices demanding that we trade our economic well being for a clean environment are trying to drive us into a false choice. Exporting our jobs to cheap overseas labor and our energy production to dirty overseas power plants will not help the environment or reduce greenhouse gases. There are alternatives to cap-and-trade, and a politician’s willingness to look at them can be a litmus test indicating whose interests he or she is really serving.

 

 

The Montana Policy Institute is a 501(c) (3) policy research organization that equips Montana citizens and decision makers to better evaluate state public policy options from the perspective that policies based upon limited government, individual rights, and individual responsibility will result in the greatest common good. To find out more or for copies of the complete Cap-and-Trade study, visit us at www.montanapolicy.org. NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action. PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the authors, the American Council for Capital Formation, and the Montana Policy Institute.

Copyright © 2010

The Montana Policy Institute

67 West Kagy Blvd., STE. B

Bozeman, MT 59715

406-219-0508

www.montanapolicy.org

 

Click here for full study.