Montana Policy Institute
The Montana Policy Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit free-market think tank. It seeks to "equip Montana citizens and decision makers to better evaluate state public policy options, and to do so from the perspective that policies based upon free markets, limited government, and individual responsibility will result in the greatest common good."
Approach to public policy
The Institute's work is built around seven principles, which are as follows:
- Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.
- What belongs to you, you tend to take care of; what belongs to no one or everyone tends to fall into disrepair.
- Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.
- If you encourage something, you get more of it; if you discourage something, you get less of it.
- Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own.
- Government has nothing to give anybody except what it first takes from somebody, and a government that's big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you've got.
- Liberty makes all the difference in the world.
MPI identifies four main issues:
- Tax reform - MPI advocates for reduced government spending and taxpayer approval of any tax increases.
- Government transparency - The Institute is working to create a free searchable online database of government spending.
- Climate change - The debate is not over and MPI argues for policy based on sound science rather than "debatable assumptions and flawed economic principles."
- Budget reform - "MPI believes that Montana's budgets should be based on needs and performance rather than the last budget, plus some additive factor for inflation, wants and needs, or whatever else factors into it."
Big Sky Search
BigSkySearch is a project of MPI that aims to give citizens the necessary tools to see how their tax dollars are being spent. The site advocates for the creation of a free searchable online database of state spending.
School's Open Montana
School's Open Montana is a project seeking to create financial transparency in public education. It allows users to see current and historical data for any K-12 school in Montana and also compare up to five school districts at a time.
TweetMontana is a transparency website that allows citizens to view Tweets from every Montana elected official at the state or federal level on one website. It shows a "tweet-stream" of the officials' "tweets" on the front page, as well as other Twitter lists and trending topics. It launched in September 2010.
The Montana Policy Institute's investigative reporter, Michael Noyes, discovered that Missoula County was spending the most money on lobbyists of all Montana counties and that the city of Missoula was spending the most money on lobbyists of all Montana cities.
The following are lobbying expenses reported by cities:
- City of Missoula – $27,787.00
- City of Billings – $19,600.00
- City of Bozeman – $4,652.28
- City of Glendive – $3,000.00
- City of Great Falls – $2,673.30
The following are lobbying expenses reported by counties:
- Missoula County – $15,310.00
- Yellowstone County – $12,830.64
- Lewis and Clark County– $8,500.00
- Fallon County – $5,850.30
- Teton County – $4,142.33
- Rosebud County – $2,000.00
67 W Kagy Blvd Ste. B
Bozeman, MT 59715
- Montana Policy Institute home page
- Montana Policy Institute, "Mission"
- Montana Policy Institute, "Seven Principles for Sound Public Policy"
- "New ‘TweetMontana’ website gets you the scoop from public officials," Montana Watchdog, September 29, 2010
- Public Monies Go Directly to Lobbyist Pockets in Montana, Watchdog.org, December 2, 2009