$1.25 billion in MT can help families in need: ACTION needed ASAP

Dear Friend of Mountain Home,

As you may know, Governor Bullock is accepting public comment on how to spend the $1.25 billion appropriated to Montana through the Federal CARES Act. This is an excellent opportunity for increased support for the moms and kids we serve, who are some of the most vulnerable in times of economic hardships such as those brought on by COVID.

We need you help to make sure funds are allocated to support the families at Mountain Home!  Please submit your comments here by COB April 27. I’ve included sample language below for you to use, or simply speak from you heart…by COB April 27th.

Fortunately, the non-partisan organization Montana Budget and Policy Center has created a slate of recommendations oriented toward families like those we serve. Their full list of recommendations is copied below. However, the input form only allows for 900 characters, so the shorter version below focused on the points most directly relevant for Mountain Home families . You can also reach out directly to any of the members of the newly-created advisory Task Force. The list of members is here.

Clearly, we all have so much on our to-do lists right now, but this is a rare opportunity for significant new funding to help those who need it most.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to weigh in, and don’t forget the April 27th deadline!

Sincerely,

The Team at Mountain Home

Sample language for public comment (839 characters)

As a supporter of Mountain Home Montana, I am very concerned about the ability of young moms and kids to meet their basic needs as a result of COVID’s economic impacts. As such, please consider the entire slate of recommendations proposed by Montana Budget and Policy Center, particularly:

-Montana should allocate $100 million to support state public sector capacity, as well as child care providers, domestic violence and homeless shelters, food banks, and other service providers facing increased hardships as a result of COVID.

-Montana should allocate $180 million in emergency rental assistance and $50 million in child care assistance to directly support families and workers impacted by COVID and the economic recession.

Thank you for keeping the needs of low-income young mothers and children in mind as you allocate these resources.

Full Slate Recommended by Montana Budget and Policy Center

This pandemic and resulting economic crisis have merely laid bare the longstanding inequities built into our social, economic, and political systems. Our response must be grounded in addressing these injustices and deploying deliberate policies targeted to those most impacted by COVID-19.

  •         Prioritize critical support for families struggling to meet basic needs. The use of crisis relief funds (CRF) should be grounded in solutions that promote racial and economic justice. Investments, such as $180 million in emergency rental assistance and $50 million in child care assistance, will directly support families and workers impacted by COVID and the economic recession. The state should invest $10 million in additional support for enrollment assistance for programs like Medicaid, SNAP, and Unemployment Insurance, expand broadband access in rural areas, and increase public education and outreach to ensure Montanans understand and can access eligible services and support. Further, the state should invest $5 million in re-entry programs for those on probation and parole, including support for housing, peer support services, and mental health and substance use disorder treatment, to meet the needs of people reentering society after incarceration.
  •         Prioritize the preventing and slowing the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Money should be allocated for testing and tracking, public awareness campaigns, healthcare for the uninsured affected by COVID-19, and any necessary medical equipment, staff, and supplies.
  •         Prioritize the safety and economic security of frontline workers who are putting their lives on the line every single day, so that we can enjoy basic goods and remain safe: health care workers (including nursing home, group home, and home health workers), restaurant staff, grocery store workers, child care workers, delivery drivers, and janitorial and custodial workers. The state should set aside $10 million for future expenditures needed to support frontline workers, including safety equipment, hazard pay, and access to health care and child care.
  •         Bolster public and non-profit social service sectors working to address public health needs. Montana should allocate $100 million to support state public sector capacity, as well as, child care providers, domestic violence and homeless shelters, food banks, and other service providers facing increased demand and expenditures as a result of COVID-19. Expend funds in the most efficient and effective ways possible by building on existing programs and distribution networks and supporting local entities.
  •         Prevent any further budgetary cuts that would harm communities and impede economic recovery. The state should set aside at least $400 million in CRF to rebuild the budget stabilization fund and maintain adequate public sector services through and after COVID-19. The state should expect increased need for services to continue for up to 18 months after COVID-19, and expanding and fully investing in services will be crucial for a full recovery.  Additionally, the state should consider investment in housing support, education, and other programs that can bolster families’ ability to weather a potential long-term economic downturn.
  •         Provide local and tribal governments with certainty in accessing resources to offset expenditures related to COVID-19. Local governments are grappling with significant cost overruns due to COVID-19, including providing non-congregate shelter for individuals who are homeless and supporting community partners to provide safe and stable housing, food support, and other services for families in need. The state should allocate at least 30 percent ($375 million) of Coronavirus Relief Funds to local governments and expeditiously release guidance to counties and municipalities on the reimbursement of necessary expenditures.

More about Montana Budget and Policy Center here.

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