Today, I am writing you to deliver some disappointing news.
As you know, for nearly two years, the Montana Budget and Policy Center has been working to expand Medicaid to provide health care for 70,000 of our friends and neighbors. For the past few months, we were heavily involved in an incredible grassroots effort to qualify the Healthy Montana Initiative (1-170) for the November ballot. Unfortunately, we now know that we will not have enough signatures to qualify before the deadline of 5:00 pm tomorrow.
This effort began with little more than $2,000 in the bank, six organizations on a campaign steering committee, supporting groups through the Partnership for Montana’s Future, and a few dozen incredible volunteers.
We recognized that in order to compete with enormous, dark, outside money, we would have to run a special kind of campaign. It would have to be a grassroots effort that trained volunteers and developed a ground game made up of ordinary Montanans. We acknowledged that the work would not stop in November because the 2015 Legislature would have to fund the initiative.
We are so grateful to the thousands of supporters in Montana and beyond. As a result of this extraordinary effort, our movement to provide health care for our neighbors has grown. We are proud that the 25,000 signatures gathered for the Healthy Montana Initiative were gathered by more than 300 Montana volunteers, from Rexford to Red Lodge, and represent honest, neighbor-to-neighbor conversations. Hospitals, doctors, and nurses pitched in; they gave money, time, and spoke up for their patients. Our Governor Steve Bullock signed the petition fresh off the presses, and our own Senator Jon Tester helped gather signatures.
We are sorry this issue won’t appear on the November 2014 ballot. But the momentum and spirit of this movement will continue to grow. What we built together is incredible and important, and that work will prove its value as we move forward. We are 25,000 people stronger than when we started.
We won’t stop working until 70,000 of our friends and neighbors across our state receive the healthcare they need and deserve.
Thank you for your support of the Center and this incredible effort.
Sarah Cobler Leow, Executive Director and the team at the Montana Budget and Policy Center