Montana Governor Asks Residents for Budget Ideas

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," April 26, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: Surplus? So what? Instead of spending all the state’s extra cash, the governor of Montana asking constituents for more ways to save it. Over 1,000 ideas so far floating in. Is a fresh set of eyes exactly what the government needs to find new ways to cut costs on a federal level?

Democrat and Governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer back with me now.

Governor, good to have you back.


CAVUTO: So, you have a surplus, right? And the mission or the call to your residents was what?

SCHWEITZER: Well, we believe that the citizens of Montana are my bosses. And the customer is always right. They’re the customer.

You know, the business of state government, it is not like the federal government, where they debate how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. State governments, all states, all 50, we have the same business. We educate. We medicate. We incarcerate. That’s 85 percent of our budget.

Well, we have got to keep bad people behind bars and good teachers in front of eager students. How do you pay for that? We’re not delivering sort of less government. We’re challenging every expense in government.

We want to keep those same teachers, or maybe better teachers. We want to make sure we choose which bad people have to stay in jail and which ones are the right ones to get out. But, in the meantime, let’s use technology. Let’s find out how we can decrease the cost of what we do by 5 percent, 8 percent, maybe even 10 percent.

CAVUTO: And what are some of the ideas that your residents have come up with?

SCHWEITZER: Well, some — some really good ideas.

Here’s one, for example. It’s a data storage idea. We have got, you know, hundreds of branches of state government, and many of them, they like to have their own data storage system. And it’s in the basement of a building someplace, or it’s in a special room. And they all take a lot of electricity to run and even more electricity to cool, because they generate a lot of heat.

And, yet, we have a state-of-the-art data center, two of them, around the state that have excess capacity. They said, well, let’s quit storing this data at all of these diverse locations, and let’s go through a central data storage area.

A second idea, they said, look, you know, there’s a lot of state employees that have BlackBerrys paid for by the state, but they really don’t need a BlackBerry. They might get one or two instant messages per day on their state account.

A cell phone would be enough. Or there are many state employees who have a cell phone, and, frankly, probably they don’t need a cell phone. They — they have their own cell phone anyway. And maybe only a small part of their business at state government needs that cell phone. So, eliminate a lot of those BlackBerrys, saves us over $1 million.

Other people have said, you have a big fleet of state-owned vehicles. And we do. And we have enough state vehicles so that, when a state employee has to go someplace — Montana is a big place — New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania would all fit inside of Montana, and we would still have room for a couple more states.

And, so, we need these cars, but we have enough cars, so that it’s enough for our peak demand. People have said, why don’t we decrease the number of cars we own, and, on those peak days, maybe two days a month, the employee could drive their own car, and we would reimburse them...


CAVUTO: All right.

Well, Governor, did anyone come up with a tax increase? Did anyone say, increase my taxes to make sure that we...


SCHWEITZER: I don’t pay any attention to that. I don’t increase taxes. I try to decrease taxes. So, we don’t come up with those kind of ideas.

I have asked for efficiency. This is the Montana Accountability Project.


SCHWEITZER: And I have offered to give a palladium coin donated by Stillwater Mine worth $560 or so per ounce — and it’s a 1-ounce coin — to the winner.

We narrowed it down to four out of 1,000 ideas. And now we’re back online at You can go to the pink piggy bank...



SCHWEITZER: ... and vote on which you think is the best idea.

CAVUTO: All right.

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