Montana’s Supreme Court is being asked to strike a ballot issue that commits Montanans to spending $200 million on medical research. The Montana Taxpayers Association and others say Initiative I-181 is unconstitutional because it commits public money to a private group not under control of the state. Slated for the November ballot, the initiative would commit Montanans to providing $20 million in bonds each year for 10 years for medical research. A research board would determine who received the money. The state would not have a return on investment for any successful research. “This method is bad public policy, bonding for programs,” said Bob Story of MonTax. “If you want to bond to build assets, that’s one thing, but if you want to bond for basically a spending program.”
The group behind the initiative is Montanans for Research and Cures. The money behind the initiative is mostly from McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences. MRI research concerns Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other brain illnesses. The research group has put up half of MRI’s roughly $80,000.
“I-181 is a bipartisan, constitutional measure written to serve Montanans affected by terrible diseases and disorders,” said Randy Gray, MRI treasurer. “That’s why the voters of Montana, not special interests, will decide the fate of this important measure, which benefits tens of thousands of our seniors, kids and veterans.”