(MTN News) Gov. Steve Bullock and state Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy spoke to students and toured the campus of City College in Billings on Thursday.
The visit was part of a state-wide look at workforce development and training.
Bullock toured the diesel tech labs and got an up-close look at the high-tech equipment used by students in the paramedic classes.
Bullock said programs like those offered at City College provide opportunities for the education and private sectors to come together.
“We’re working with over 200 private businesses to make sure we are meeting their needs,” Bullock said. “The opportunities for these students are just amazing and they will get good jobs in Montana.”
High paying jobs in Montana has been a hot-button topic following Bozeman businessman Greg Gianforte’s announced gubernatorial bid.
During the announcement on Wednesday, Gianforte questioned Bullock’s role in what he perceives as a mass exodus of young Montana workers.
“Unfortunately, Montana ranks 49th in the country in wages and too many of our young people are leaving to find opportunities,” Gianforte said.
On Thursday, Bullock said those numbers just aren’t an accurate representation of the current state of Montana’s job market.
“What he’s addressed is something that actually started about 25-30 years ago,” Bullock said. “Right now in Montana we are the sixth fastest growing in personal income in the nation, more people are working in the state of Montana than ever before in our state’s history. Unemployment rate is 4 percent, about a point below the national average, and we’re working to make things better.”
Bullock also criticized Gianforte for what Democrats are calling “New Jersey values.”
“We know that he’s spent millions of dollars on groups that may not be in the mainstream. We know that the times he has engaged in the past in public policy it’s not necessarily to benefit all Montanans, maybe more himself,” Bullock said. “He’s a candidate and I think he has to defend those views.”