2018 State-Tribal Symposium Sponsors

The Montana Budget and Policy Center is proud to keep the symposium free for attendees in addition to offering travel assistance. We are grateful to have generous sponsors supporting the 2018 State-Tribal Policy Symposium: Advancing Investments in Indian Country and our Legislative Reception.

MBPC would like to thank the following sponsors.




Yesterday’s Announcement of Cuts Restoration: Impact on DPHHS

On August 30, the governor announced how the roughly $45 million restored to state agencies would be allocated. Funds are allocated based on the level of cut for FY2019 that each agency faced during the special session. About $30 million will go back to the Department of Public Health and Human Services, which took a disproportionate cut compared to other agencies. These cuts came on top of additional cuts that DPHHS faced in the regular 2017 session and over last summer.

This table shows how the $30 million in restorations compare with the governor’s original $49 million in general fund cuts, in each DPHHS division, made pursuant to section 17-7-140 MCA. The table includes the governor’s reduction taken immediately prior to the special session and then codified by the legislature during the special session, for each FY2018 and FY2019, as well as the federal funds associated with those state cuts. The rows in light grey show the amount being restored for each agency.

As you will see from this table, some of the funds directly restore cuts taken during special session, but a portion of the funds are being used for other obligations.

The governor had previously declared that he would use $5 million of the $30 million to restore provider rate reductions that were taken, not in the special session, but prior to that when 2017 revenue came in below previous projections. The governor also provides $3 million to restore (or in one case, increase) other Medicaid reimbursement rates for hospitals and other health providers.

The governor is using $3.2 million to meet its obligations to provide a wage increase to direct care workers. The legislature passed the wage increase during the 2017 session, but the first year’s wage increase was eliminated in SB 261 as a result of lower 2017 revenue levels. However, SB 261 made it clear that if revenue came in as the legislature projected in 2018 (which it now has), the wage increase would be implemented for the second year of the biennium. While the legislature provided an appropriation to fulfill this wage increase, it appears the governor is counting this cost toward the amount restored to DPHHS.

The announcement also includes some funding that appears entirely new, including additional funds to the Montana State Hospital and Child and Family Services Division, both of which are facing current budget constraints and the possibility of a supplemental appropriation for FY2019. While CFS did face a cut related to the special session, the restoration does not match what was originally cut.

As reported in July, the governor is putting some of the restored funds toward targeted case management. Of the nearly $10 million cut to targeted case management, the plan restores $2.5 million. Unfortunately, the announcement this week did not include details on how that restoration will play out in communities where hundreds of families are struggling to access services.

We’ll be digging into this more in the coming weeks, but we hope this table provides some clarity on how the restorations compare with the cuts.

Position Announcement: Senior Fiscal Policy Analyst

The Montana Budget and Policy Center is dedicated to advancing responsible tax, budget and economic policies through credible research and analysis in order to promote opportunity and fairness for all Montanans. Since its founding in 2008, MBPC has become a trusted resource for information on important fiscal debates that will shape Montanans’ future.

MPBC, headquartered in Helena, is seeking a new highly-qualified Senior Fiscal Policy Analyst to lead the organization’s research and analysis of fiscal policies.

Position Duties and Responsibilities

The Senior Fiscal Policy Analyst will report directly to the Co-Director of Research and Development and will serve as the chief researcher on MBPC’s work on tax and fiscal policy and assist with research in other focus areas, determined by the organization’s leadership, priority policy agenda, and grant requirements. The Senior Analyst will provide key findings and develop related policy recommendations, policy briefs, fact sheets, reports, presentations, and papers. The Senior Analyst will serve as the chief presenter of MBPC’s fiscal work and facilitate relationships with key partners in these policy areas.


A successful candidate will have the following experiences, qualifications, and expertise:

  • A commitment to MBPC’s mission;
  • A graduate degree in public policy, economics, or related research field;
  • Five or more years of research or analytical work on fiscal and economic policy issues;
  • Demonstrated capacity for communication with decision makers and collaboration with stakeholders, including the ability to communicate respectfully with diverse people of varied economic, racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual orientations;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to communicate complex or technical information clearly to a range of audiences both in writing and through public speaking;
  • Background leading highly qualified professional staff;
  • An ability to think strategically and create a collaborative working environment;
  • A demonstrated commitment to social and economic justice;
  • An understanding of Montana’s political and policy environment;
  • A sense of humor;
  • Knowledge of the legislative and budget process in Montana preferred; and
  • A commitment to excellence.

A full job description including specific responsibilities can be found here.

MBPC offers a competitive salary, commensurate with experience, and a benefits package that includes health, dental, vision, and matched retirement. The ideal candidate will work full time and be based in Helena. However, a truly outstanding candidate who is based elsewhere in Montana will be considered.

To Apply: Send an email with attached resume and separate cover letter explaining your interest in and qualifications for the position to: Heather O’Loughlin, Co-Director, Montana Budget and Policy Center, holoughlin@motanabudget.org.

Applications will be considered until the position is filled. However, candidates are encouraged to apply by August 23, 2018 in order to be considered for the first round of interviews. Finalists will be asked to submit a writing sample and references.

MBPC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an equal opportunity employer.  Women, people of color, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBT community are encouraged to apply.

Preston Parish Joins the MBPC Team

MBPC is thrilled to announce Preston Parish as our new State Tribal Policy Fellow.

Preston comes to MBPC with a commitment to analyzing state tax and budget policies with the goal of increasing socioeconomic outcomes and opportunities for American Indians and tribal communities in Montana. Preston’s professional background includes working on state and local policy issues ranging from environmental justice and infrastructure to public health and higher education. He was the 2017 University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Fellow, a past graduate student researcher for the City of Detroit’s Department of Public Health, and a graduate student consultant for the City of Ann Arbor. Preston holds a Master of Public Policy degree and a Bachelor of Science degree, both from the University of Michigan. Preston grew up on the Bay Mills Indian Reservation in Michigan and is a member of the Bay Mills Indian Community.

In 2011, MBPC expanded our work to include a special focus on state-tribal policy to promote sound fiscal and budget policy that can help reverse the history of economic injustice that has led many American Indians to unacceptable levels of poverty, unemployment, and poor health. Our work aims to inform policymakers on how state tax and budget choices affect Indian Country, and to increase the involvement of American Indian leaders in state budget advocacy.

Preston will work closely with Dr. Heather Cahoon, our State-Tribal Policy Analyst. We are excited to build upon this work and expand our research and community building strategies with Preston on the team.

This fellowship is part of the State Policy Fellowship program for master’s level students and recent graduates. The Fellowship is a project of the State Priorities Partnership, a national network of independent state policy organizations in 43 states coordinated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), one of the nation’s premier policy institutes. Since 2010, CBPP and the State Priorities Partnership have placed Fellows in leading state-based policy organizations across the country.

American Indians and Montana’s Criminal Justice Reinvestment Initiative

Montana is currently undertaking a significant criminal justice reform effort, making this an ideal time to incorporate important changes that will benefit American Indians who are arrested and incarcerated at a disproportionately higher rate than white Montanans, as seen in Table 1 below.

Table 1. American Indians (AI) as a Percentage of Various State Populations, June 30, 2017

AI Females AI Males
Total Montana 3.28% 3.32%
Total state custody, by gender 22% 16%
State prison 33% 20%
Alternative state corrections locations* 31% 22%
State parole and probation 20.5% 14.5%
Other jurisdiction custody or supervision** 9% 8%

*Pre-release, chemical dependency/alcohol treatment, assessment/revocation center, county jail

**Interstate compact supervision, federal custody, other state jail or prison

Source: Montana State-Tribal Relations Committee, “Facts and Figures: American Indian Offenders in Montana’s Correctional System” (March 15, 2018)

Clearly, there is a need for more innovative interventions that can reduce these rates. One critical tactic the state can to is to ensure that substance use and mental health treatment is more readily accessible both inside and outside of the justice system. There is a proven link between substance abuse and criminal activity. Yet, despite existing options available, accessing treatment remains a documented problem.

In Montana, nearly a third of all rape offenses involve a perpetrator under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and crimes such as theft, burglary, and criminal endangerment are highly correlated with addiction. In fact, drug charges are currently the leading categories for both misdemeanor and felony arrests in the state. Furthermore, according to the Montana Department of Justice:

  • 18 percent of individuals receiving a partially suspended prison sentence have convictions related to substance use along with 18 percent of individuals sentenced to prison with no time suspended;
  • 63 percent of individuals committed to the Department of Corrections (DOC) with partially suspended sentences are sentenced for substance use related offenses, along with 50 percent of DOC commits with sentences that are not suspended; and
  • The average net sentence length for substance use related offenders (excluding suspended or deferred sentence time) is just under five years. From 2012-2016, Montanans were sentenced to 12,800 unsuspended years of prison or DOC commitments for substance use related offenses.

Another important change the state can make is to integrate culturally-based, trauma-informed therapies into treatment programs and to make these services available to incarcerated American Indians and those on community supervision. Likewise, providing cultural awareness training to corrections staff is also important for creating supportive environments conducive to positive change for American Indians.

The value of holistic defense and tribally-focused reentry programs cannot be overstated, as seen in the enormously successful program run by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Defenders Office.  The CSKT program, which started in 2011, reduced recidivism among chronic reoffenders to 35.5 percent after its first year. Reentry programs like these assist individuals with obtaining driver’s licenses, education/GEDs, legal assistance, transportation, employment, housing, food, cultural mentoring and peer support groups, as well as medical, mental, and behavioral health care, all of which has been proven to significantly reduce recidivism. The state should invest in reservation re-entry programs and efforts such as this one, as well as in establishing similar off-reservation programs that can serve Montana’s urban Indian population.

Finally, the state should explore the possibility of entering into cooperative agreements with tribes to utilize reservation-based services to satisfy state probation requirements and monitoring, as well as reservation-based evaluations, treatment, and urinalysis. If the state determines to explore this approach, they should compensate tribes for any of the work tribes do on the state’s behalf, as well as actively investigate new funding streams that might be made available through these types of intergovernmental agreements with tribes.

By making these changes, Montana’s criminal justice reinvestment initiative can help reduce American Indian incarceration and recidivism rates. Learn more about holistic defense, reentry programs and Montana’s criminal justice reinvestment initiative in MBPC’s report, “Criminal Justice Reinvestment in Montana: Improving Outcomes for American Indians.”

News Release: New Report – Criminal Justice Reinvestment in Montana: Improving Outcomes for American Indians

Today, the Montana Budget and Policy Center released its latest report titled Criminal Justice Reinvestment in Montana: Improving Outcomes for American Indians.

Montana is currently undertaking a significant criminal justice reform effort, making this an ideal time to incorporate important changes that can help reduce incarceration and recidivism rates for American Indians,” said Heather Cahoon, state-tribal policy analyst for the Montana Budget and Policy Center and enrolled member of the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

In 2015, the Montana legislature created a fifteen-member Commission on Sentencing to study Montana’s criminal justice system and propose evidence-based policy solutions. The Commission found:

  • Montana prisons are over capacity with populations expected to increase an additional 13 percent by FY 2023;
  • County jail populations increased 67 percent between 2011 and 2013, leading to overcrowding;
  • Arrests by local law enforcement increased 12 percent between 2009 and 2015;
  • Bail/bond revocation arrests increased 109 percent;
  • Failure to appear arrests increased 189 percent; and
  • Parole violations increased 241 percent.

Based on these findings, the Commission developed a series of bills presented to the 2017 Montana legislature. With broad bipartisan support, the 2017 legislature enacted nine of the 12 Commission recommendations.

“In Montana, American Indians represent only seven percent of the total population, but are 20 percent of the men in Montana prisons and 33 percent of the women in Montana prisons,” said Cahoon. “This hurts families and Native communities, and is costly for the state. But there are policies that can significantly improve this situation.”

The report examines a number of evidence-based solutions and best practices to reduce the rate of incarcerations, reduce recidivism, and improve outcomes for American Indians in the criminal justice system.

State policy recommendations from the report include:

  • Establishing tribal reentry programs based on the concept of holistic defense to assist individuals with obtaining driver’s licenses, education/GEDs, legal assistance, transportation, employment, housing, food, cultural mentoring and peer support groups, as well as medical, mental, and behavioral health care;
  • Locating a probation and parole officer on each reservation or entering into cooperative agreements with tribes to utilize reservation-based supervision services to satisfy state probation requirements and monitoring for tribal members;
  • Ensuring that substance use and mental health treatment is more readily accessible both inside and outside of the justice system;
  • Accepting reservation-based evaluations, urinalysis, and treatment;
  • Providing mandatory cultural competency and related trainings for state corrections staff;
  • Making accessible culturally-relevant American Indian programming within the state corrections system and allowing American Indians to participate in cultural practices while incarcerated;
  • Integrating culturally-based, trauma-informed therapies into treatment programs; and
  • Increasing the availability and range of educational, vocational, and work experience opportunities for incarcerated individuals.

The Montana Budget and Policy Center (MBPC) is a nonprofit organization providing in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. Our core focus is publishing credible, timely, and easy-to-understand reports on the fiscal policies that most impact low and moderate-income Montanans. Our research and analysis then inform public policy, the media, and the broader public. To learn more about MBPC, visit our website www.montanabudget.org.

New Efforts to Increase Tourism in Indian Country

A recent story in the Missoulian announced an exciting new effort by the Montana Department of Commerce to support and enhance tourism in Indian Country and the state.

Last year, MBPC released a paper “Tourism Could Be an Economic Driver in Indian Country With Focus and Investment,” where we reported that tourism is one of Montana’s leading industries, bringing in 12 million tourists annually, creating thousands of jobs, and contributing billions of dollars to our state’s economy.

In 2016, roughly 1.4 million of visitors to Montana were drawn here for reasons directly related to American Indians. More recently, according to the Missoulian, a 2017 national survey of potential visitors found that 82 percent of leisure travelers were interested in exploring sites related to Native American culture.

In order to help connect these tourists to places and experiences in Indian Country, the 2017 legislature created an Indian Country tourism region, which joined the state’s six existing regions. The next steps, as reported by the Missoulian, are to “create awareness for Native American cultural experiences and events within a target market,” as well as “taking the best assets we see in Native communities and turning those into opportunities for business development and economy boosting.”

Each of the 12 tribes in the state have a rich history and culture, public celebrations like pow wows, and museums and trading posts containing Native arts and crafts and other goods. Likewise, the reservations are located in beautiful and open spaces with access to the outdoors, as well as a growing number of services and amenities. Increasing service sectors on reservations and in general creating a marketplace that can host, feed, and provide the experiences tourists want is what the state and tribes are currently working towards.

Tribal tourism officer and member of the Blackfeet Tribe, Carla Lott, says part of the goal is for “tribal tourism to benefit underserved, rural areas of the state while promoting a greater understanding of modern Native American culture.”

As tourism in Indian Country continues to grow, it will also drive economic growth on reservations, creating new business and employment opportunities.  And this is good for Indian Country and for the state as a whole.

MBPC Hosts Legislative Candidate Budget Education Sessions

Last week, MBPC hosted state budget educational sessions in Billings and Great Falls for legislative candidates. This was a new venture for our organization, and we were excited by the strong turnout. We had nearly 30 participants at each location and candidates traveled as many as 340 miles to attend. Thanks to all who attended!

In Montana, the executive and legislative branches hold a constitutional responsibility to balance the state budget every two years. The legislature’s ability to meet this responsibility rests on its knowledge and understanding of the budget process. Montana’s state budget is complicated, and term limits often result in few legislators at the session with detailed knowledge of the state budget and the budget process.

We decided to host these educational sessions to provide information that can assist current and future legislators to better understand the state budget process. We invited an incredible group of speakers to share their expertise on a few critical parts of the state budget.

Heather O’Loughlin, co-director at MBPC, kicked off both days with an overview of budget and tax policy in Montana, the various funds that make up Montana’s budget, and the steps the legislature takes to pass a budget.

Madalyn Quinlan guided attendees through K-12 education finance in Montana. Madalyn was the chief of staff at the Montana Office of Public Instruction under three state superintendents and, prior to that, she served as a revenue analyst with both OPI and Legislative Fiscal Division.

Next, participants heard from Lois Steinbeck who worked for the Montana Legislative Fiscal Division for more than two decades, leading the division’s analysis on Medicaid and health and human services. She presented on the budget and divisions within the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and how Medicaid works in Montana.

The day wrapped up with former director for the Department of Revenue, Mike Kadas, who provided an in-depth review of Montana taxes and revenue. Mike also served seven terms in the Montana House of Representatives and four of those on the Appropriations Committee.

Each day also included a lunch panel of current and former legislators to discuss their first-hand experiences and knowledge gained from their time serving on the Appropriations, Tax, or Finance and Claims Committees.

One of the participants said: “The session was EXCELLENT!!!  It was obvious that considerable effort was put into planning.  Please pass on my applause to the others.  I was especially appreciative of the extensive notes to have an immediate fileable reference of the session, and so that I did not have to scramble with note taking but could just pay attention. The panel during lunch was also a great touch, and you rounded up good people for that position!”

We hope to host these trainings again and continue to educate current and future legislators. In the meantime, if you would like to see what information was presented the links to everyone’s presentations are below.

Overview of Montana’s state budget

K-12 finance in Montana

Department of Public Health and Human Services budget and Medicaid in Montana

Taxes and revenue in Montana

If you would like to stay in the loop on our resources and the next state budget education session, sign up for our monthly newsletter and follow us on Facebook.




Chambers of Commerce on Medicaid Expansion: In Their Own Words

At least 25 Chambers of Commerce across the country have supported Medicaid expansion, recognizing it as critical to businesses, workers, health care providers, and local economies.

Arizona – Arizona State Chamber Letter to Governor Brewer, signed by 12 other local Chambers (See also, Arizona Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Policy Brief: The Business Case for AHCCCS Expansion)

“A strong healthcare system is crucial to the economic health and vitality of the entire state. Thousands of good paying jobs with benefits depend on our state moving down the path [Governor Brewer] articulated. We stand with [Governor Brewer] and are prepared to strongly and vocally support [the] decision throughout this endeavor.”

Illinois- Laura Minzer of the Illinois State Chamber

“The expansion of Medicaid as originally envisioned by the Affordable Care Act is the best way to mitigate additional cost pressures on employers and consumers in the near term… if the state were to forgo expansion, employers would face greater penalty exposure.”

Missouri- Governor Nixon, speaking on behalf of Chambers of Commerce in Kansas City, Independence, Springfield, Lee’s Summit and St. Louis, as well as the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, Kirksville REDI, and the Associated Industries of Missouri

“The Missouri Chamber of Commerce supports the Medicaid expansion – not because they’re big supporters of this President and his agenda – but because it’s the smart thing to do. For these business leaders, this is not a political decision. It’s an economic one. And we shouldn’t let last year’s politics get in the way of next year’s economic growth.”

Ohio- Press Release, “Ohio Chamber Backs Medicaid Expansion” (also supported by Greater Cleveland Partnership (a regional Chamber of Commerce) and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce)

“The question of whether or not to expand Medicaid is a complex one; however, doing so is ultimately the right decision… Due to cost shifting resulting from uncompensated care, employers are already paying a hidden tax that makes their health insurance premiums higher than they should be. Without expansion, this cost shifting would be even more severe.”

Tennessee- Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, release of 2013 legislative agenda (see also the Chamber’s Briefing Paper on Medicaid Expansion)

“Chamber officials say their support for Medicaid expansion is based on the ideas that it would bring billions of new federal dollars that are already obligated for health care into Tennessee — helping to create jobs and consumer spending — and that the move will help hospitals better absorb reimbursement cuts and the cost of uncompensated care they provide.”

Virginia: Opinion by Barry E. DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce

“As the state’s leading business organization, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce views itself as the guardian of our state’s reputation for being the best for business. . . . In the case of Medicaid reform and extension of coverage to the uninsured, the best path in our judgment is to move forward with reforming our state’s largest health insurance program and extending health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians, primarily from working families.”