Get Involved with Big Sky 55+

The future of Montana is At stake

 

Healthcare, Retirement, Workers Rights, Education and more.
If you care about making sure that Montana’s 55 and older and the generations to come will have the ability to live healthy vibrant lives, then let us come together, and rise up.

 

We can build a better future for Montana today and Montana tomorrow. Big Sky 55+ is here for you and your family.


 

PLATFORM

Learn more about the work Big Sky 55+ members our doing for Montana’s future.
Download our Platform Brochure.


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Politics can get tricky for anyone. Cut through the nonsense and get to an answer.
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We are doing important work and making big strides here. Your support is crucial.
Fuel the movement with a donation.



Preserve and Protect Social Security

We need to protect Social Security as a vital service we all have earned. In Montana, Social Security provides benefits to over 227,000 Montanans, including more than l59,000 Montanans aged 65. Theses hard-earned benefits keep people out of poverty and allow them to live with dignity and independence in their later years. 

 
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The elderly poverty rate in Montana would go from 7.1% to 41.8% without Social Security.


 

Medicare and Medicaid, Cornerstones of our Healthcare

For over 50 years, Medicaid has provided vital health insurance protections to seniors in nursing homes and low-income Americans of all ages. Medicaid and Medicare are especially important in Montana, which is aging at a faster rate than most of the other states in the union. The 2010 U.S. Census showed that Montana’s 65 and older population was at 13.4%, while the United States is at 12.1%.

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Medicaid expansion efforts since 2015 have helped 100,000 Montanans.


Improve Access to Healthcare and Long-Term Care

Medicare insures more than 227,000 Montanans, half of whom live on incomes below $23,500 per year. While Medicare is essential, the plan doesn’t do enough. There are gaps in Medicare’s coverage including basic dental, hearing, and vision, preventive services that older people need in order to live healthy and productive lives. People on Medicare now spend on average 15% of their income on health coverage, which is three times more than younger households spend for health coverage.

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People on Medicare now spend on average 15% of their income on health coverage.

How will Big Sky 55+ improve access to healthcare and long-term care?


We must support policy that works for working families

 

If we want an economy that works for everyone, it’s time to strengthen access to quality healthcare, retirement security, affordable housing and get serious about protecting our environment. We must prepare for the future by supporting economic policy that works for all our working families throughout their lifespan.

 

 
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Expand Retirement Security

We need a comprehensive approach to ensuring that everyone, regardless of income, geography, gender, race, or vocation has a guaranteed opportunity to retire with a secure income that will allow them to live out their lives with dignity and independence.

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Corporations and Elite should pay fair share

Corporations continue to make record profits, yet far too many of them pay nothing in federal income tax. Meanwhile, the top one percent continues to expand its piece of the economic pie, while often paying lower tax rates than working families.

 
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Support Workers Rights

When workers come together and have a voice at work, they have the power to improve their wages and benefits and ensure they are treated with dignity on the job. It’s time we reform laws to protect workers who want to bargain collectively for better pay and better working conditions.

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Support the Fight for $15

The Fight for $15 movement has galvanized workers across the country. Thousands of workers, from fast food workers to child care teachers to home care providers, have joined strikes and other actions to win $15/hour and union rights. Their courage has helped focus the country on the crisis of underpaid work.

Access to Quality Affordable Health Care

Our health care system is broken. When people feel they can’t afford to go to the doctor, their illnesses are often diagnosed later, are less treatable and result in higher costs than if they were able to get preventive care or early treatment. Quality affordable health care helps Montana people access essential healthcare services.

 
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Many Montanans over 55 feel they are one illness or accident away from bankruptcy.

 

Dangerous Budget Cuts

 

According to the Montana Budget and Policy Center, 2017 state budget cuts have resulted in a loss of services for our most vulnerable populations. The cuts include:

 
 
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$22.6 Million
$32 Million


$12 Million


= $66.6 million TOTAL LOSSES

for our most vulnerable populations according to Montana Budget and Policy Center 2017.
learn more

 

In the 2017 Montana Legislature:

  1. A combined loss of $32 million in targeted case management for children and adults with developmental disabilities and those experiencing mental health and substance use disorders.

  2. Nearly $12 million was cut to in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities living in their own homes, likely forcing more Montanans out of their own home and into a nursing home.

  3. $22.6 million was cut in reimbursement rates for hospitals and other health centers providing care to Medical patients.

  4. Medicaid’s coverage for some critical dental services such as denture services, was terminated.

 

lessons learned….

who we elect to the Montana Legislature matters


“It is the goal of the people to establish a system of education which will develop the full education potential of each person. Equality of educational opportunity is guaranteed to each person of the state.”
— - Montana Constitution. Part X. Education and Public Lands Section 1

 

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Early Childhood through Higher Adult Education     

As the 55 and older community, we recognize that a quality public educational system from early childhood through higher education, with adequate funding, is necessary for building strong families, strong communities, and our state. Educational achievement opens doors and increases opportunities for success and helps level the playing field. We need to prepare all students to succeed in the new global economic systems and help them build our state.

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Because Montana legislators have cut the state’s share of school funding over many years, local tax payers are being asked to take an unfair amount of responsibility in K-12 school funding to meet basic school operational needs.

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Post-secondary education is vital for economic family security. We must make college and vocational training accessible and affordable for all students.

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Term limits raise serious constitutional issues

We believe that money and the power of lobbyists have corrupted our legislative processes. Here in Montana, our citizen lawmakers only meet once every two years. Term limits in addition to our legislators meeting only one time every two years puts our state in a distinct disadvantage when dealing with professional lobbyists.

 

WE CAN DO BETTER, HERE IS HOW

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Eliminate a corrupted legislative process.

We believe that money and the power of lobbyists have corrupted our legislative processes.Support limiting the amount of money that can be spent in elections and limiting the time frame in which electioneering can occur. 27 jurisdictions across the country have adopted public funding of elections. This would benefit our MT legislature election as well.

Subscribe to learn more

 

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Eliminate Barriers to Voting

There are several ways we can create more fair, efficient and accurate elections . These include conducting elections by mail-in ballots, providing polling stations in traditionally low turnout areas, and opposing prohibitive voter ID laws, just to name a few!

Subscribe to learn more

 

IT IS BOTH A RIGHT AND A RESPONSIBILITY

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ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE

Working families, many of whom live in or near our major cities, disproportionately experience the toll of environmental injustices everyday such as higher pollution levels and increased exposure to environmental hazards at home and at work.

Montana’s natural resources

It is our constitutional right and our responsibility to pass our rich natural legacy of clean air and water and fertile lands on to future generations in excellent condition. We must address the human and economic threats of environmental degradation.

 
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$60 Million dollars

Last year’s fires cost Montana over $60 million, NOT INCLUDING the cost of health impacts from smoke or the loss of cattle.

WILDFIRE SEASON

Wildfire season in Montana is now 2 1/2 months longer than it was in 1990. We believe it is our responsibility to leave our children, grandchildren, and future generations a “clean and healthful environment.” It is our constitutional right and our responsibility to pass our rich natural legacy of clean air and water and fertile lands on to future generations in excellent condition. We believe in supporting the protection and conservation of Montana’s natural resources and public lands.

 
 

EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK

REGARDLESS OF RACE OR GENDER

 
 
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$43K less than men

Women in Montana make $.43 cents less on the dollar.
This means for every $100k men in Montana make, women make $43k less. People of color make even less!

 

 

A FAIR JUSTICE SYSTEM FOR ALL

 
 
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Numbers don’t lie. 17% of those incarcerated…

are actuallyNative American however Native Americans only make up 7% of the total population. These numbers show a disparity of inequity.

We all want to be treated fairly in our justice systems (law enforcement, courts, and incarceration), yet statistics reflect a disproportionate representation of minorities and the poor in Montana’s jails, judicial, and legal systems.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

 
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Employment, housing, and public accommodations

We support local and statewide efforts to amend the Montana Human Rights Act and Montana’s Bias-Based Crimes statute from discrimination to protect people based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. These are often referred to as Nondiscrimination Ordinances (or NDOs).

 

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Native Americans have lived here for thousands of years, long before the State of Montana existed. 78,000 people of Native American heritage currently live in Montana, on the seven reservations as well as throughout our urban areas. It is a growing population. They make up 6.6% of the state’s population and 13.7% of the total student population in our public schools.

Each tribal nation has a proud history and unique cultural heritage and language. Each also has a legal relationship to the Federal Government based on a long history of treaties and various laws.

The Government to Government relationship that recognizes the sovereignty of these tribal nations is the basis of the relationship with the Federal Government and the State of Montana. Native American people face many challenges in their daily lives, both on and off reservation. Solutions can be found through cooperative efforts and support between the tribal nations and Federal, State and Local Government systems. The following are some of the challenges:

Severe Health Care Disparities

The Montana Health Care Foundation reports that American Indians in Montana die at a median age of 50 years (more than 20 years earlier than non-Indian Montanans). Death rates for specific illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory illnesses, injuries, and suicide are substantially higher as well.

  1. For 2014 and 2015, the highest rate of suicide in Montana is among American Indians (35.5 per 100,000) followed by Caucasians (28.1 per 100,000) according to the Montana 2016 Suicide Mortality report.

  2. Educational achievement is improving, but Montana’s American Indian students face higher dropout rates, low graduation rates and lower achievement levels than their non-Indian peers.

  3. American Indians are over-representation in our prison and legal systems.

  4. Violence against Indian women and missing American Indian women is a state and national issue.

  5. Substance abuse, poverty, unemployment, inadequate housing are persistent problems.

 

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Montana is a predominantly rural state. Montanans value our rural communities, lifestyle and the open landscapes. Rural communities are aging faster than the rest of the state. Rural communities have less political power due to smaller populations, so they have fewer voices speaking for them. The needs of rural citizens and their communities include:

Infrastructure funding: Well-maintained infrastructure is vital for agriculture and local businesses to thrive. Water and sewer systems, volunteer fire departments, local law enforcement, public schools and well-maintained highways and roads keep our communities viable and livable. Our communities often struggle to fund these services. Infrastructure investments help maintain and improve businesses and communities and create good paying jobs.
Utilities: Rural communities need broadband internet access as well as improved telephone services, including cell and landlines. Electric co-ops need to be open, and responsive to the communities they serve.
Rural health care: Rural hospitals, telemedicine, veterans' health care, and mental health care are key to viable rural communities. Seniors need a range of care options, from home health care to rehab centers and nursing homes.
Support for family farmers and sustainable agriculture: Farmers’ markets, farm to school projects, farm to table restaurants, small manufacturing of food products, niche markets--these provide jobs and access to locally sourced, sustainable foods. Rural voices must be heard on fair trade, concentration in the meatpacking industry, country of origin labeling and the Farm Bill.
Farm transition to next generation: We support ways to help grow the next generation of those who will grow our food, including access to capital, mentorship for beginning farmers and ranchers, and improved extension services.
Education: Public schools are vital to rural communities. They are the community and social hubs of rural Montana towns. Once a small town loses its public school, it loses its identity and its ability to attract young families to farm and ranch.

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Fair Taxation

We support a state system of taxation that provides adequate funding for public services. Tax revenue should fully fund our schools, universities, police and fire protection, the essential infrastructure of roads, bridges and internet networks throughout the state and the human services upon which so many of us depend.

To reach these revenue goals, we support a tax system that is "progressive." By this we mean higher income residents, who have a greater ability to contribute to the common good of the state, should pay a larger percent of their income in taxes than those with lower incomes.

Montana currently has a moderately progressive tax system, due in large part to the absence of a general sales tax.


 

Montana’s veterans have sacrificed for our great country.

We must honor that sacrifice by taking care of them and their families. We can do better at taking care of veterans. Montana has one of the nation’s highest rates of per-capita active duty soldiers and veterans. Stronger support is needed to provide veteran health services and to help military men and women transition back to civilian life.

 

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economic development and transitioning to the workforce

  • Support the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act that will enable veterans to receive entrepreneurial training programs and assistance on developing business plans to start their own business.

  • Incentivize business to train and hire veterans.

 
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Strengthen the veterans choice act to better serve rural veterans

  • Increase accountability at the Veterans Administration.

  • Keep rural hospitals opens.

  • Expand access to health care and enhance mental health services for veterans.

  • Make it easier for veterans to access the benefits they earned.

  • Oppose The American Health Care Act because it is Un-American and will leave Montana Veterans without much-needed care.

 
 

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