Legislators’ Forum to Discuss Transparency and Accountability

Press Release

The Montana Policy Institute, partnering with the CATO Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the Center for Fiscal Accountability, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the Property & Environment Research Center, will host a Legislator’s Government Accountability Forum at the Red Lion Colonial Inn, Helena, 8:30-4:30 on Tuesday, November 11th.

The Forum will provide a hands-on workshop of programs and expert panels on government transparency, fiscal discipline, and property and environmental rights and responsibilities. In addition, Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, will provide the keynote lunch address.

All morning presentations and the lunch program are open to the public (and media). Policy experts will discuss budget and tax proposals that stress fiscal discipline and accountability; success stories in government transparency measures from other states; and property rights issues for maintaining Montana’s clean and healthful environment.

Afternoon events are closed-door sessions for state legislators and legislative staff. Hand’s-on panels will present nuts and bolts tools and resources to assist our lawmakers in crafting proposals that ensure our government remains transparent and accountable to taxpayers. These will include real world examples from other states’ actions that have resulted in concrete benefits to their citizens. Some of these include: Objectives-based budgeting models, tax reform measures, and government transparency web sites.

These “Google for government” web sites have allowed citizens in other states to track their tax dollars from the time they are collected to when they’re spent using key word searches and other user-friendly tools. Today’s technology allows this level of access to the peoples’ data, if only governments have the will to make it available. The Forum will provide concrete examples of just how easy and inexpensive it is.

Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. and events begin at 8:30. Registration is $25, and includes the morning presentations, lunch, and a keynote address by Grover Norquist. Register online at www.montanapolicy.org.


The Montana Policy Institute is dedicated to providing Montana leaders and citizens the information and resources they need to advocate for policies that are based on a respect for individual freedom, an expectation of individual responsibility, and a belief that government intervention should be the avenue of last rather than first resort. For more information visit us on the web at www.montanapolicy.org.


Election Results: Buck up, buckle down

The sky is falling! The world is ended! The country is lost! The statists have won! The flame of liberty is snuffed forever!

There, glad to get that out of my system. Feel free and take a couple of minutes to run in circles shaking your head and muttering if it’ll help. You’ve earned it. And then let’s get back to business.

But first, let’s put things in perspective. The Founding Fathers fought off tyranny. The abolitionists ended slavery. Communism was contained from without but defeated from within. Yesterday’s results were a setback for the cause of liberty and responsibility, but higher hurdles have been overcome. Now is not the time to lie down and cry. Now is the time to prepare for the opportunities that are inevitably to come.

Yesterday’s election was not a repudiation of common sense or the basic laws of mathematics and economics. It’s going to be hard to watch, but the big government, anti-liberty policies that we’re going to see at the federal and state levels will fail. Our job is to have alternatives ready to go when they do. I’ve made a point of telling people that politics is all about the short term, but ideas last – and they have lasting impact. Milton Friedman said that big decisions resulting in revolutionary changes only occur during crises. The bank bailout is a perfect example. And when those crises occur nobody has time to do a study or consult the operator’s manual. They look at what’s on the shelf and pull down whatever makes the most sense. Well, our stuff hasn’t been on the shelf and the other side’s has. They’ve done a better job of organizing and presenting their point of view. The country’s going to pay for that in the form of bad policy.

Our job now is to repopulate that shelf with good ideas that are based on – let’s all say it together – a respect for individual liberty, an expectation of individual responsibility, and a belief that government should be the avenue of last rather than first resort in solving our problems. The path this country has chosen is simply unsustainable. It was unsustainable under the Republicans, and it’ll be unsustainable under the Democrats. They’re writing checks that they can’t cash, and it’s eventually going to tumble down. That’s not a hope, but a plain hard fact. We need to be there with good options based on our founding principles when that next crisis occurs. And that won’t happen if we’re on the floor in the fetal position sucking our thumbs.

We’ve seen a defeat but not a loss. Go through your grief stages, but be quick about it. This is the time we need to be busy laying the groundwork for sane policy by talking common sense and putting alternatives on the shelf. Most Americans still agree with the concepts of freedom and responsibility. They just need to be reminded what those concepts mean. Let’s help them remember.