Steady and Proven Leadership

By Beacon Staff

Folks who eat the food that Pam and I grow at Purple Frog can all attest that we work hard and pour our heart and soul into our community. It’s that value of hard work and honoring locals, instilled by parents and grandparents, which I bring to Helena.

It’s a funny campaign when special interest groups (PACs) do the heavy lifting for your general election opponent. The same former director of the Montana Republican Party heads up both PACs and one hired an ex-Conrad Burns staffer to spend gobs of money to distort real issues.

The half-inch of mailings in the past weeks are simply a distraction. The intent is to take the focus from our achievements in the past two Legislative Sessions. But locals know my style of cooperation.

Montana is clearly on the right road from our work in 2005 and 2007. We lead the nation in energy independence: coal up 30%, gas production up 40%, a $7 billion dollar coal to fuel plant, and 4 new wind farms of which the most recent will power 42,000 homes.

We are one of only seven states in the entire nation with a budget surplus, a sign of good fiscal discipline. And last session we enacted the largest tax relief plan in Montana’s history, $100 million back or $400 per local homeowners.

In the past two Sessions, Montana has created nearly 60,000 new jobs, thanks in much part to the smarts of our business leaders. But we have more work ahead.

I’ll work to make the business climate even friendlier and more predicable for Montanans. Montana needs to invest in local entrepreneurs. We should lower the business equipment tax for Montanans.

Good education is key to business growth. From FVCC to Whitefish Schools we need to assure that our kids get the best education possible. Recognizing this, the past two sessions, Montana invested more state dollars into local schools than the past 14 years combined, and we capped University student’s tuition in the process.

Businesses need a stable workforce. Locally I work with the Whitefish Area Land Trust to assure that workers find housing. And at the State level, we enacted the Insure Montana program so that businesses can provide health insurance to workers and their families.

The public places in Happy Valley, Beaver Lake, Spencer Mountain, Haskill Basin, the Frisbee gold lands near Whitefish Lake and Les Mason State Park are business catalysts. As long as I am in office I will work to assure they remain public; it’s simply in our own best economic interest to keep public lands in public hands.

On November 18th, I will be back in Helena working with Republicans and Democrats to make the next property tax reappraisal lower taxes for Montanans. This permanent solution is the kind of bipartisan work that voters send us to the capitol to enact.

Politics is a partnership between locals and leaders. The past couple weeks and the coming days include a lot of hollow chatter. If at anytime you want to talk or offer ideas contact me www.mikejopek.com or phone 250-1184.

The 2009 Legislature will be a belt tightening Session, just like our grandparents wanted; we’ll give a bunch back to Montanans, save some for emergencies, be frugal and smart with our spending, invest a bit in local communities and stay out of debt.

I’m committed to growing our economy and keeping Montana on a safe track. If you stand with me on November 4th, I’ll work for you. I’ll use my experience, steady and proven leadership to get the job done and be gratefully back in Whitefish just in time to get the lettuce seeds planted and help Pam set up for the baby chickens.

Rep. Mike Jopek is a rural farmer who worked in the 2005 and 2007 Legislatures, representing the Whitefish area as a Democrat.