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Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton)

Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton)

Recently learning of the passing of Ross Perot leaves me with bittersweet thoughts, flooded with fond memories rushing back and feelings of great gratitude.

In my mid 20s I was blessed with the good fortune to work for Ross Perot’s company, EDS, at Pontiac Motors. One of his business philosophies was to promote based on performance. Consequently, I became the youngest supervisor on staff, and my team of consumer advisers was recognized for having the best morale, productivity and attendance of any in our department. I’ll forever appreciate the leadership training EDS and Ross Perot invested in me. May he rest in peace.

Establishing an objective, tangible, measurable, performance metric was a large part of the foundation for EDS’s success. Compile the data, and then analyze our results transparently, with the goal of optimizing our performance. “Maintain an attitude of healthy discontent” is an EDS/Ross Perot teaching that I’ve carried with me ever since.

Meaning “appreciate how far you’ve come, but always strive to improve.”

Fast forward my world to present day — What performance metrics are in place to determine legislator accountability? What does healthy discontent look like in the Montana Republican Legislature?

In the 2019 legislature, Republicans held a "healthy" majority of 58 out of 100 in the House and 30 out of 50 in the Senate. We were entrusted by the citizens of Montana to have the necessary numbers to control any legislation that got to the floor, simply by voting united. Republicans controlled the legislature. This is an irrefutable fact.

What are we expected to unite around? The Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Montana that we take an oath to uphold, and the National and State Republican Platforms that we are asked to sign on in support of when we decide to run for office. These documents represent our shared beliefs and “our code.”

Why then, did HB 658, Medicaid Expansion, adding $750 million in annual expense and 97K able-bodied, working age adults, mostly without children; and violates our platform in at least six different areas, become a permanent part of our law? The answer is easily analyzed through voting records, and again, irrefutable.

It’s because 20 Republicans, three of which are from Ravalli County (Ballance, Bedey and Greef), broke their oath of office, ignored their agreement to support of the Republican platforms, overrode the will of the citizens in whom all political power is vested (Article II, section 1 of our State Constitution), and teamed up with the democrats to pass the behemoth “hospital bailout bill” that the citizens clearly voted down last November through the defeat of I-185.

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Again, irrefutable.

We’ve witnessed a 46% increase in the salaries of the top six paid hospital positions since Medicaid Expansion was originally passed in 2015. We have no cost transparency in hospital billing, reports of great waste and proof of inappropriate billing. I hereby challenge someone from the left leaning, so-called "Solutions Caucus" to demonstrate with a data driven performance metric how that 46% increase in salaries going directly into the pockets of hospital CEO’s and lack of transparency in pricing and billing equates to equity in quality health care for our citizens who are shouldering the expense. I’ll wait.

Montana citizens need to recognize that while the Republican party has a very healthy platform created by the grassroots Republicans in our state, we are experiencing an attempted coup by liberal “Republicans.” Sadly, experiencing this reality in the legislature creates discontent within many Republican legislators; and rightfully so.

We simply expect Republicans to stand on the principles they purport to believe in. I believe the healthiest way to address the problem is to expose it for our citizens to see, because only our citizens can fix it at the ballot box.

Citizens need to establish their very own performance metric which would entail studying the Constitutions and platforms that we, as legislators (and citizens) are obligated to uphold, carefully vetting the candidates and reconciling campaign promises with actual voting records. There are many Watchdog groups that create scorecards to aid you in this endeavor. Two of which are Legislator Loyalty and Montanan’s For Limited Government.

The Republican Party that I signed on to support believes in limited government, regulations and taxes, economic development that supports private industry, and individual rights with correlating personal responsibilities. Medicaid Expansion flies wildly in the face of those beliefs.

My vote shall remain that of a Christian, constitutional, conservative Republican.

Rep. Theresa Manzella, R-Hamilton, represents HD85. She has announced she will run for State Senate District 44 in the upcoming election. 

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