By Deb Courson

It’s a day of rallies in Helena today, with citizens attending the “Rally to Save Jobs, Public Services and Education” at the Montana State Capitol at 2 p.m., which follows a rally for the environment in the morning. The Montana Organizing Project has partnered with MEA-MFT for the “jobs” event, and several hundred people are expected.

Teachers, clergy, union members and small business owners will be on hand, according to MEA-MFT president Eric Feaver. He accuses the legislature of creating a budget crisis to further an agenda of budget-cutting that is not in the public’s best interest.

“This state is not in fiscal disrepair, and the governor knows that, and we know that. So we’re going to rally to save public services and education. That’s what we’re all about.”

Republican legislators disagree with the governor’s revenue forecasts and with legislative committee forecasts that show the governor’s budget proposal is solvent. They call the revenue projections too optimistic, and they plan to reduce state spending to meet their version of the forecast.

While today’s rally was planned weeks ago, Feaver says there are similarities to recent events in Wisconsin, where up to 75,000 people have protested at the capitol in Madison because of budget cuts hitting education, state jobs and public services.

“They are setting the tone for all of us in the public sector right now. There’s no question that as Wisconsin goes, so might go the rest of the nation.”

Events begin at 1:30 at the MEA-MFT office to make signs. The rally is at 2 p.m. on the Capitol north steps. Those rallying will also walk through the Capitol and meet with legislators.