The Wednesday Read: Zinke, Fuel Taxes, & Tester

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. – Winston Churchill

These items caught my attention for this edition of The Wednesday Read:

  • Zinke & Travel Fraud
  • Montana Highway Funding
  • Tester & Healthcare
  • December 21

Zinke & Travel Fraud:

Yesterday morning “The Intercept” posted a story about U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) titled, “Trump’s pick for Interior Secretary was caught in ‘Pattern of Fraud’ at SEAL Team 6.” The story is making its way around the internet and was recently posted on the Navy Times website.

The Intercept reported:

But when Zinke was a mid-career officer at SEAL Team 6, he was caught traveling multiple times to Montana in 1998 and 1999 to renovate his home. Zinke claimed that the travel was for official duties, according to the sources.

Later in the day, The Intercept story was updated to include information that most people in Montana already knew about:

During his 2014 campaign for Congress, Zinke released his military records, which detail two incidents of unapproved travel to Montana. The June 14, 1999 evaluation cited “lapses in judgement” for travel.

So is this the smoking gun? Probably not. Those who dislike Zinke will continue to dislike him and want more digging into his past.

When people are selected for a cabinet position for a President, the scrutiny they undergo is enormous – and so is the paperwork they complete for the position.

Just about every rock will be overturned to try and find something negative about them because that’s the way we roll…

Montana Highway Funding:

Mike Dennison from MTN News recently reported about Montana’s highway funding problems. Read/watch the excellent report HERE.

Dennison reported:

Since fiscal 2012, spending from the Highway State Special Revenue Account has outpaced revenue by $75 million – and now, its “working capital” has dipped below the level where it can pay the upfront costs of big constructions projects and get the federal match, state transportation officials say.

So how will the state fix the problem? A fuel tax increase! Dennison says that a coalition of highway contractors and other interests are proposing a 10-cents-per-gallon increase in Montana’s state fuel tax, which is the primary revenue source for the highway account.

I’d like to increase taxes to help pay for my livelihood, too. There’s this new vehicle I’m interested in…

Maybe I should just cut spending on other things and save some money to pay for it…

I don’t see the Republican-controlled state legislature voting for a fuel tax increase, but stranger things have happened.

Rest assured those state legislators who vote for tax increases will be called out here at The Western Word.

Tester & Healthcare:

U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is launching a webpage for Montanans to submit their personal stories about #WhatsAtRisk if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a plan to cover the thousands of Montanans who are benefitting from the law.

You can access Tester’s webpage HERE.

I don’t think the Republicans will leave people hanging without some sort of health insurance to cover those under ACA. In fact, President-elect Donald Trump told folks that during a “60 Minutes” interview earlier this year.

Of course, we never know what people will do after they are elected and start drinking from the fountain of power in Washington…

December 21:

Happy 91st birthday dad – I miss you every day.


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  1. I am in total agreement with your assessment of the highway/roads issue. It almost appears to be crisis management. Does money really solve all problems? They need to do a major assessment. Hold their feet to the fire.

  2. Colorado is bringing in $150 million in legal marijuana tax revenue this year. Montana should legalize marijuana too. We’d have all the money we need for roads, schools, preschool, and homeless programs…just like Colorado does.

    • Greg – I agree with you. That revenue would be very helpful. -JmB

  3. Zinke:
    My experience tells me that no one, and I mean no one, has a clean slate…there is always something to find in the closet if you root through it long enough. One would think that those in charge of Seal Team 6 found resolution with Zinke. I have never thought that two single events showed a pattern…

    Montana roads:
    I don’t have any issues with the state of the State roads. I do have an issue with their incompetence. I’ll try to keep this short. There was an erosion under HWY 200 at MP 71. It took 6 months for the state to repair the roadway, the solution was to through a bunch of ashphalt unevenly over the spot and roll it out. It was actually worse when they were done. Then they issued a bid to chip seal that section of the highway. Yes, they had them chip seal right over the uneven surface…months from now in the summer, they will tear up the surface and repair the unevenness and leave the roadway patched. When I think of who is in charge of maintaining our roads I think of the Gary Larson cartoon of the kid trying to get into The School of the Gifted…pushing on the door that reads pull!

    Happy Birthday Mr. Brown!

    • Anon – Thanks for your comments. I think “chip seal” seems to be the answer to all the road problems in Montana. I don’t like it. -JmB

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