Montana Public Radio

Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Cooney Releases Economic Plan

Jul 30, 2020

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney Thursday unveiled an economic plan for the state. Cooney’s plan emphasizes in-state hiring for state contractors; growing rural economies; and empowering women in the workforce.

Cooney spoke near the Clark Fork River with a handful of supporters in downtown Missoula. He says he wants the state government to prefer Montana-made products in it’s purchases.

"The state of Montana, who is the state's largest consumer of goods and services, ought to be supporting Montana businesses who create Montana's jobs."

Cooney says he’ll 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."

He says he’ll create the Office of Rural Prosperity to help create jobs and bolster economic development. Cooney, the current lieutenant governor also pledges to expand broadband access.

"Setting a target of 90% broadband internet connectivity in all 56 counties in Montana by the end of my first term."

Cooney’s plan also proposes paid family leave, childcare incentives, public pre-K, and a Paycheck Transparency Act to address gender wage inequality.

Whitney Williams, Cooney’s opponent in the Democratic primary, spoke during the event in support of his campaign.

"It's time our leaders in Helena focus on making sure that women have the tools and the support system they need to excel in the workplace," Williams said.

Cooney’s plan also includes expanded apprenticeship tax credits and renewable energy worker training grants.

Cooney is running against current Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte in the 2020 governor’s race. Gianforte released his own "Montana Comeback Plan," earlier this month. Gianforte’s plan focused on developing natural resources, boosting the state’s technology, manufacturing and agriculture industries and rolling back what Gianforte calls unnecessary regulations. Candidates from the Green Party and Libertarian Party are also in the race.


Every campaign season, we hear a lot about “Montana Values.” Things like liberty, opportunity, and love of public land. Ideas that supposedly define Montanans. But when elections come around, that language seems to do just as much to drive people apart.

For our elections coverage, we want to know what values matter to you, and how candidates are talking about them in the run up to November. What do you think of when you hear “Montana Values” - and why?

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