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Gianforte focuses on pandemic, economy in first state of state speech

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Posted at 8:21 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 13:01:37-05

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte gave his first State of the State speech Thursday, which focused heavily on the COVID-19 pandemic but also promised major actions to boost the economy and reduce government regulations.

Gianforte, a Republican, highlighted several "heroes" of the pandemic, including a Great Falls doctor who lived in his camper to protect his family after treating patients, service workers who went the extra mile, hospitals like Billings Clinic that operated child-care facilities and other businesses and individuals who helped neighbors during tough times.

So far, Montana has administered 92,000 doses of the vaccine, and 22,000 Montanans have been fully vaccinated, Gianforte said. By week's end, nearly everyone at all of the state's long-term care facilities will have received at least one dose, he said.

2021 State of the State Address

He said he planned to ask President Joe Biden's administration to ramp up production on COVID-19 vaccines and provide Montana with more doses.

Gianoforte spoke for about 45 minutes from the Capitol building in Helena.

He called the state of Montana "strong" and "resilient" but also highlighted several plans to strengthen the state's economy and hasten recovery. A few highlights: cutting corporate tax rates with cutting services, creating a tax force to review state regulations, offering tax credits for employers to get more training for employees and raising beginning teacher pay.

Gianforte also promised the state would drop a lawsuit involving five Flathead County businesses cited by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services under previous Gov. Steve Bullock for violations of COVID-related restrictions.

Gianforte touched on other topics, including his support for anti-abortion bills in the Legislature, support for banning sanctuary cities in Montana (none have been designated so far), extending the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force and directing revenue from marijuana and tobacco settlement funds into substance abuse treatment.