In response to Jami Romney FitzGerald’s Nov. 1 letter criticizing state Rep. Adam Hertz and endorsing his opponent in the House District 96 election, Hertz posted this comment on Missoula Current’s Facebook page.
Jami Romney FitzGerald came to Helena during the legislative session as a Frenchtown School Board trustee and we discussed a few bills.
One of them was SB 307, which created a maintenance levy for schools in exchange for phasing out the quality schools facility grants. I initially voted against SB 307, but changed my mind based on my conversation with Jamie. Now, after asking me to support SB 307, she’s written a hit piece excoriating me for voting for SB 307. You couldn’t make this stuff up!
HB 265 had nothing to do with school infrastructure. It created a suicide prevention block grant program at a cost of almost $100k to the state on a yearly basis but didn’t provide a revenue source for actually funding the grants. So, it would’ve created a new government administrator but no funding to actually implement the grant program the administrator would’ve been tasked with.
In a subsequent Facebook post, Hertz added these comments about his support for education.
I supported SB 260, which created a school facilities subtrust within the coal tax trust fund. Upon reaching full funding, the subtrust will distribute interest earnings of approximately $20 million per year as matching funds for school facility projects throughout our state in conjunction with funding authorized by SB 307, which I also supported.
These two companion bills scrapped the old school facilities funding system that obviously wasn’t working well, given the more than $350 million in deferred maintenance across Montana’s public K-12 school system. Each session, the old grant program would receive dozens and dozens of grant requests and very few would get funded.
The requests that were funded came with varying levels of local match, creating an unfair balance across our state. SB 307 and SB 260 created a permanent solution to address the more than $350 million in deferred maintenance across Montana’s public K-12 school system, and both bills passed the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Adam Hertz is a Republican who represents HD 96 in the Montana Legislature. He is running for re-election against Democratic challenger Tom Winter.