Opinion: Sen. Tester not delivering to Montana
"By only 3,562 votes state Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., was elected to serve in the U.S. Senate instead of sitting Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.

In that campaign, Tester raised ethical questions about Burns in the Jack Abramoff investigation and questioned Burns' Senate seniority.

But after three years, the result of sending Tester to Washington is that Montanans made a costly mistake.

Burns highlighted his years of "delivering for Montana," citing the $2.2 billion in federal funding that he had secured over 18 years. After earning a seat on the Appropriations Committee in 1994, he rose to become the chairman the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, giving him enormous power to direct federal funding to Montana projects.

With Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., a member of the House's Appropriations Committee, the state's delegation could effectively authorize projects and appropriate federal funding on a massive scale.

To measure their success, the Northeast-Midwest Institute reported that Montana had the 11th highest rate of return of tax dollars (143 percent) for fiscal year 2005 with more than $8.35 billion, the 16th best state per capita and more than Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, and California. Two years later, without Burns, Montana slipped to 31st in the same category.

Tester undercut the value of his seniority by securing a unique promise."

Get the Story:
Matt Mackowiak: Tester isn't matching what Burns delivered for Montana (The Great Falls Tribune 7/17)