By Deb Courson

The April 1 theme at the Capitol today (Friday) is “No fooling with our future.” Up to 1,000 people will rally to protest state budget cuts, maintaining there’s no budgetary reason for them.

Speakers with disabilities, nurses, small business owners, and conservation groups will be featured. Kayla Miller, MSU-Billings student body president, will join them. She’s honing in on the nearly $30 million the Legislature is cutting from higher education funding.

“Education is essential to the economic recovery of our state. For every dollar we invest in higher education, the state sees a return of over $2.50.”

Legislative leaders, who are at odds with the governor over estimated state revenue, have said the budget cuts are needed to balance the bottom line.

Miller says the economic ramifications of the cuts include lost jobs, as well as cancellation of resources for some of the state’s most vulnerable. Higher education institutions are expected to raise prices to cope with state funding losses, at a time when Miller notes that enrollment is at record levels.

“By making education more expensive, they are putting Montanans at a disadvantage – especially the people who need education the most.”

Buses, vans and carpools are bringing Montanans in from around the state for the rally, which takes place at noon on the north steps of the Capitol. The Partnership for Montana’s Future organized the event, the third in a series focused on legislative budget decisions.