Weekly Column

Connecting Communities

Rural communities often struggle to find new and readily available economic opportunities. In the past decade, however, a new source of employment and revenue has seen fantastic growth. It seems the answer was blowin’ in the wind. Renewable energy, especially wind energy, has proved to be a very successful venture. Investment in wind energy helps rural areas immensely. It provides employment, and various types of revenue can flow into a community from a project.

Rural Montana Hurt by Tax Holiday

Resource development, specifically the oil and gas exploration happening now in Eastern Montana, often causes a rapid influx of new people moving into rural communities. Large numbers of new residents can strain existing infrastructure - housing, education, law enforcement and public safety such as fire and emergency medical response. Current oil and gas exploration has also pushed our road and water infrastructure to the breaking point.

Wind Power Needs Infrastructure

Renewable energy showed fantastic growth in 2012, accounting for 55% of new electricity generating capacity built last year. The energy produced is keeping pace with the price of fossil fuels, and shows potential to become even cheaper in the future. The Great Plains has a bright future in renewable energy sources like wind, especially in rural areas where the wind blows and space is abundant. 

Expanding Health Care Coverage is a Smart Investment

Hard-working Montana families need the security of quality health care. A bill in the legislature, HB 458, could help 69,000 Montanans gain that security. These people are your neighbors - farmers and ranchers, small business owners, retirees, and entrepreneurs that don’t get health insurance from their employers.

HB 458 would expand Montana’s Medicaid program, and create an estimated 12,000 to 16,000 jobs over the next 8 years. Over $2 billion would return to Montana’s economy in that same time period as a result of increased economic activity in the health sector.

Tax Plan not Common Sense for Nebraska

On Friday, Governor Dave Heineman delivered the details of his proposed tax plan at a press conference in Lincoln. At the Center for Rural Affairs, we believe that Nebraska should be cautious about dramatic shifts in tax policy. We are concerned that this proposal will hinder the state’s ability to invest in building a better future for all Nebraskans.

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