Montana Candidate for Governor Mike Cooney releases economic plan: clean energy jobs, workforce training, buy Montana – Keep Montana Working!

Mike Cooney1

Saying the state’s pandemic recovery will take time, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney on Thursday unveiled an economic plan in his bid to become the state’s next governor, focusing on workforce training, keeping jobs in the state and empowering women in the workplace.

Standing above the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Cooney also noted the importance of the state’s recreation economy, along with his push to position Montana as a leader in the renewable energy industry and the jobs that come with it.

Keep Montana Working

By Martin Kidston


Mike’s proposals to boost our economy and strengthen Montana families, workers, and businesses are what’s needed now to bounce back from this virus,” said Whitney Williams, Founder & CEO of williamsworks. “Montanans are tough.  I’m working to elect Mike Cooney governor because we know what it takes to create good-paying jobs and support a new generation of leaders – workers, business owners, and entrepreneurs – to drive Montana and our economy forward.

Keep Montana Working Plan


Hire Montanans First Act

Montana jobs should be filled by Montana workers. Mike Cooney’s Hire Montanans First Act will increase the required proportion of Montana workers on state and locally funded contracts to 75 percent, and expand this requirement to all projects, not just construction.

Buy Made in Montana Act

Montana businesses produce world-class retail and agricultural products that compete with mass-produced products in the U.S. and the world. Mike Cooney’s Buy Made in Montana Act will require the Montana state government to prefer Montana-made products in its purchases.

Executive Order on Outsourcing

Mike Cooney will exercise his Executive Authority to issue an Executive Order to grant preference in state contracting to companies that do not outsource jobs to other states or countries, and penalize companies who outsource more than 25% of jobs.

Office of Rural Prosperity

Mike Cooney will create the Office of Rural Prosperity to prioritize economic development and job creation in rural Montana by streamlining rural policy, creating an inventory of existing resources and initiatives while aiding in rural improvement efforts. The office will be administratively attached to the Montana Department of Commerce and work with the Montana Department of Agriculture.

Expanded Apprenticeship Tax Credit

Apprenticeship is a time-honored training model in Montana which provides businesses access to a talented and trained workforce while ensuring Montana workers can earn while they learn. Mike Cooney will expand the Apprenticeship Tax Credit to include a $500 tax credit to businesses who hire apprentices that permanently lost their job due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Broadband Infrastructure Target

Mike Cooney will set a target of 90% broadband internet connectivity in all 56 counties in Montana. Right now, there’s not a single state program designed to aid broadband deployment. As Governor, Mike Cooney will close that gap, and work with Montana’s cooperatives and rural providers to give them the financial tools they need to put fiber in the ground and deploy broadband to every Montana home that wants it.

Renewable Energy Worker Training Grants

Montana has an incredible opportunity to be a leader in renewable energy and be at the forefront of the transition to a clean energy economy that supports thousands of good-paying jobs. As Governor Mike Cooney will propose legislation to provide preference in the existing Workforce Training Grant (WTG) program within the Department of Commerce for businesses who create jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Governor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development

Mike Cooney will transition the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to become the Governor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The office will continue to recruit new businesses, grow existing businesses, help with business transition, and to ensure our workforce training programs work in unison to meet the needs of our economy in 2030.

Empowering Montana Women in Workforce

Building off the work of Women for Cooney, Mike Cooney will propose and implement a series of policies designed to empower Montana women in the workplace, including:

Equal Pay

Mike Cooney will continue the work of the Equal Pay for Equal Work Task Force created by Gov. Bullock in 2013, which advocates for policies and programs to help close the wage gap in Montana, including wage negotiation training, employer best practices and helping draft legislation like the Paycheck Transparency Act.

Cooney will propose the Paycheck Transparency Act, which addresses gender wage inequality by allowing greater wage transparency. The act creating paycheck transparency protections would protect Montana workers by preventing Montana employers from seeking or discussing information regarding past wages, benefits, or other salary history as a condition of employment or application for employment.

Paid Family Leave

Mike Cooney will direct the State of Montana, as the state’s largest employer, to be at the forefront of offering Paid Family Leave benefits to executive branch employees, ranging from 6-16 weeks of leave (combinations of both paid and unpaid) to care for a new child or an ill family member, undergo a medical procedure, tend to a serious health condition, or donate an organ.

Childcare Incentives

Mike Cooney will increase the funding capacity for start-up, expansion, and licensing compliance grants to support early childhood businesses so that every parent who wants to work can afford to work without jeopardizing the health, safety, or development of their children.

Public Pre-K

Mike Cooney will make working with Republicans and Democrats in the legislature to permanently invest in publicly-funded high-quality early childhood education a top priority for his administration. Children who take part in high-quality early childhood education programs are: More likely to read at grade level; Less likely to repeat a grade or require special education; More likely to earn a high school diploma; Less likely to become teenage parents, require public assistance, abuse drugs, or end up in jail. Every $1 spent on high-quality preschool programs creates at least $7 in future savings to the communities and states that invest.

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