Aug 11, 2010 8:02 PM by Marnee Banks (KXLH-Helena)

MT Dems, GOP differ on $26B jobs bill

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a $26-billion dollar jobs bill which Democrats claim will save hundreds of thousands of jobs, but which Republicans cite as too costly.

Democrats believe the jobs bill will save roughly 300,000 jobs across America, including 700 teacher's positions in Montana, but Republicans say the jobs come with a hefty pricetag.

Bowen Greenwood, executive director of the Montana GOP, said, "What I do know is that if you look past the teachers to the students they are supposed to be working with, those very students that those teachers are standing in front of are going to be paying the bill for this spending.They are going to be paying the bill for the rampant bailouts and the rampant so-called stimulus spending in this Congress."

The bill is funded through a reduction in food stamp benefits, which, as the MT Department of Health & Human Services reports, comes at a time when Montana's food stamp usage is reaching record levels.

Denise Juneau, MT Superintendent of Public Instruction, noted, "I do have mixed feelings about where the money is coming from. I feel like in these tough economic times there certainly should've been some concessions made. But again, at the end of the day, it (funding) coming to education hopefully will in the long term create a system where we will need fewer people on food stamps."

Montana's U.S. Congressman Denny Rehberg voted against the measure, saying, "Montana's families know you shouldn't balance the checkbook with a credit card."

Montana's U.S. Senators, Jon Tester and Max Baucus, jumped behind the bill, with Tester claiming, "It won't cost the taxpayers a dime."

Governor Brian Schweitzer will have to apply for the money in the upcoming weeks, and then the MT Legislature will appropriate the funding during next session.

But with the bill freshly approved, the impact in Montana is yet to be seen.

The Bill passed the House with a vote of 247 to 161, with most Congressman voting along party lines.

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