Making Ends Meet > YPR News Desk > Making Ends Meet in Montana

Making Ends Meet in Montana

Northwest Area Foundation is no longer providing funding for this series. However, YPR News is committed to continuing this project as funding and time allows. If you have story suggestions or comments, please e-mail YPR News Director Jackie Yamanaka.

Project Background
Northwest Area FoundationIn April 2006, Yellowstone Public Radio's newsroom was offered a two-year grant by the Minneapolis-based Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) to explore and discuss the economic well-being of Montanans.

In offering this non-competitive grant to YPR and three other public radio stations, NWAF President and CEO Karl Stauber said that "we wanted these very credible newsrooms to have the means needed to increase the number of in-depth stories that can make a real difference in the lives of their listeners."

YPR will use this grant to produce an occasional series of news features, call-in programs and/or town hall meetings to explore how Montanans are making ends meet. We also call on you, our listeners, to join the conversation with your collective wisdom, input, and dialogue on a complex public policy topic.

On this webpage, you will find an archive of stories and programs and useful links for resources.


Making Ends Meet in Montana Contributors
Jackie Yamanaka
, YPR News Director e-mail
Kay Erickson, YPR News Reporter

Useful Links
Northwest Area Foundation
Per Capita income data, BBER
Census and other MT data

Supporting Documents
The following documents are .pdf files and require Adobe Reader to view. Adobe Reader is a free download.

Struggling to Make Ends Meet: Montana

Community Perspectives on Poverty among Montana Adults
Community Perspectives on Poverty: Executive Summary
Community Perspectives on Poverty: Poll Details

Americans are Realistic--and Optimistic--About Prospects for their Communities
Montanans are Realistic--and Optimistic--About Prospects for their Communities

Public Topline Results for National Survey: 18 and older on Community Issues
Public Topline Results: Montana Oversample

Tools to Take Action: Resources Available to Communities to Reduce Poverty


Making Ends Meet Audio Archive
YPR maintains an archive of all audio from the Making Ends Meet series. They are available for on-demand streaming using the Windows Media format.

download Windows Media Player (free)


speaker iconBra Drive for the HUB
aired October 28, 2010

A drop-in center that serves individuals who are homeless or at risk of being homeless in Billings has launched a new effort aimed at helping women. As a part of our occasional series Making Ends Meet, Jackie Yamanaka has more on the campaign that's collecting gently used or new bras to give to homeless women.
DOCUMENTS (in .pdf format): "Support" the HUB Press Release
"Support" the HUB Information Sheet

speaker iconSpin Cycle
aired September 14, 2010

Nearly a dozen cyclists rode on an educational tour around parts of Billings most affected by homelessness. Yesterday's bicycle tour was led by Billings Police Officer Shane Winden, who patrols the downtown area on a bicycle. As Jackie Yamanaka reports as part of our occasional series Making Ends Meet, this ride included guest cyclist Mike Farrell of Minnesota. Farrell leaves Billings on his bike today for St. Paul, Minnesota. The twelve-day effort is to raise awareness of homeless and underprivileged teenagers.
LINK: donations can be made to Spin cycle at by clicking on "donate" and adding "Spin Cycle" into the comments
LINK: follow Mike Farrell's bike ride on Facebook

speaker iconSpare Change for Real Change
aired July 13, 2010

Spare Change for Real ChangePICTURED: Julia Guarino, AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer (left) and Lisa Harmon, Executive Director, Downtown Billings Association, with one of the donated parking meters [photo by Jackie Yamanaka]

A dozen old, mechanical parking meters from downtown Billings have a new life. They are no collecting coins for a campaign to help the homeless population. It's called "Spare Change for Real Change." As Jackie Yamanaka reports for the on-going series Making Ends Meet, the project issued its first set of grants to three organizations that serve the homeless population.



speaker iconDoctors Making House Calls
aired February 9, 2010

Doctors who make house calls. It's an old-fashioned notion that soon could make a comeback for some low-income and elderly Montanans. The Board of Medical Examiners is now recruiting retired doctors with an active medical license to make house calls for Medicare-and Medicaid-eligible patients. As Jackie Yamanaka reports in another in our occasional series Making Ends Meet, the Montana Health Corps is aimed at providing primary care to patients at a low cost.

speaker iconChild Hunger Summit
aired January 25, 2010

Hungry in Montana 2008 Report (.pdf file, requires Adobe Reader)
The recession continues to deepen in Montana. That's led to a growing number of hungry children and their families. As Jackie Yamanaka reports in the latest in our occasional series Making Ends Meet, a summit was convened in Billings to tackle this issue.

speaker icon2009 Northwest Area Foundation Poll
aired September 17, 2009

Montanans report thay've been hit hard by the recession. That's the finding of a poll released by the Minnesota-based Northwest Area Foundation. The poll found more Montanans are struggling financially than a year ago. Since 2005, the foundation has been tracking how residents are faring economically in its 8-state region that includes Montana. As part of our continuing series Making Ends Meet, Jackie Yamanaka reports on some of the poll's findings.

speaker iconPayday Loans Fail
aired February 25, 2009
Both the Montana House and Senate rejected attempts to “blast” bills seeking to curb the interest charged for payday and title loans. The loans range from 50-to-300 dollars. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

speaker iconWage Equity/Retaliation on the Job
aired February 20, 2009
Equal pay for equal work is an issue of fairness and if Montana workers raise questions about their pay with their employer they shouldn’t be subject to retaliation. That was the message delivered to the House Business and Labor Committee. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

speaker iconMobile Homes/Affordable Housing
aired February 17, 2009
A state representative from Billings says she’s concerned about the availability of affordable housing. That’s why she says she’s sponsoring two bills to that protect residents of mobile home parks. Both had a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol.

speaker iconBig Sky Grants for Families
aired February 12, 2009
A comitteee is enableout about a program that is helping struggling area residents weather the current economic storm. The area has been battered by the bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club, the downturn of the construction industry, and other job layoffs. Jackie Yamanaka has more on the efforts of one group working to help area residents.
For more information: Press release 1 (.pdf file)
Press release 2 (.pdf file)
Press release 3 (.pdf file)

speaker iconSelf-Help Law Center
aired December 2, 2008
The Montana Supreme Court's Equal Justice Task Force wraps up its series of statewide forums today in Helena. The focus is to determine if low and moderate income Montanans have access to the state's justice system. For nearly a year, Yellowstone County has hosted one of two pilot projects to help people who don’t have a lawyer navigate the court system and address their legal needs. The Self-Help Law Center is open to everyone, regardless of income. But according to the most recent statistics, the majority of people who have used the center’s resources say they simply can’t afford to hire an attorney. As part of our continuing series “Making Ends Meet,” Jackie Yamanaka reports on the challenge of access to justice for Montanans who can’t afford an attorney.
speaker iconSupplemental audio: Jackie Yamanaka talking to District Court Judge Russell Fagg in Billings about the challenges from the bench when one party is representing him/herself and the other has an attorney and what this means about Montanans ability to access justice.

speaker iconAccess to Justice Forum in Billings
aired November 12, 2008
Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Karla Gray worries the legal system has become priced beyond the means of many Montanans. And she's concerned low- and moderate-income residents are being denied access to justice. The Supreme Court's Equal Justice Task Force is looking to make sure the state's justice system is meeting the needs of citizens. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, a forum will be held on Friday in Billings on the issue.

speaker iconRebuilding Together
aired July 7, 2008
The rapidly rising cost of living, as well as building materials for basic home repairs, is making home ownership expensive. Low income Billings residents are sometimes forced to choose between basic necessities and essential home repair. Rebuilding Together Yellowstone County is trying to help low income homeowners stay in their home and keep it livable. Kay Erickson has more as part of our Making Ends Meet series.

speaker iconPeople's Law Center Grants
aired June 11, 2008
A non-profit, public interest law center has granted nearly half a million dollars to numerous organizations across the state that help low-income adult Montanans. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, the grant awards came as a surprise to many of the recipients.

speaker iconNorthwest Area Foundation 2008 Poll
aired April 16, 2008
Montanans remain concerned that their paychecks aren't adequate to cover their bills. They say a family of four in Montana needs at least $40,000 to make ends meet. That's twice the federal government's poverty threshold. These are the findings from the latest poll conducted for the Northwest Area Foundation. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, Montanans also say their concern about the economy will affect how they'll vote in November.

speaker iconKidsKare Launch
aired March 17, 2008
A new program to provide preventative health care to uninsured children is now up and running in Yellowstone County. As Jackie Yamanaka reports in our Making Ends Meet series, KidsKare is spearheaded by the Heinz Family Philanthropies.

speaker iconConsumer Credit
aired March 14, 2008
Consumers in Montana, as well as the rest of the country, are becoming more dependent on credit cards. And that dependency is translating into large debts. But there is help for those facing an ever expanding flood of red ink. Kay Erickson explains.
Consumer Credit Counseling Service in Great Falls

speaker iconPioneer Human Services
aired February 15, 2008
After two days of listening to the successes of Pioneer human Services in helping former convicts, addicts and other homeless individuals, attendees at a social enterprise conference in Billings wanted to know if the Seattle-based social enterprise would expand to their city. Jackie Yamanaka has more on Pioneer and its emphasis on job training and employment.

speaker iconHomelessness/Workforce Conference
aired February 14, 2008
Philip ManganoAttendees at a conference aimed at ending homelessness were asked to look at the issue in a new way. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, the business community was challenged to add their ideas and expertise.

Pictured: Philip Mangano, executive director of the U-S Interagency Council on Homelessness (standing), and Lisa Harmon, executive director of the Downtown Billings Alliance [photo by Jackie Yamanaka]


Additional Material:

US Interagency Council on Homelessness
Pioneer Human Services
Document: Social Entrepreneurship & Government (.pdf)

MP3 chickletPhilip Mangano Remarks (MP3)
Entire speech from Philip Mangano, executive director of the U-S Interagency Council on Homelessness, delivered Feb 13, 2007. He updated the Social Enterprise Conference at MSU-Billings College of Technology on the Bush Administration's goal to work with local communities to end homelessness. (54:22)

MP3 chickletBill Simmons Remarks (MP3)
Entire speech from Bill Simmons, owner of Master Lube. He delivered the lunch keynote address at the Social Enterprise Conference. Among his comments, why and how his company hires its employees. (51:15)

MP3 chickletBruce Whittenberg (MP3)
Entire speech from Bruce Whittenberg, Executive Director of Leadership Montana delivered the keynote address on Feb 14, 2008. (22:01)

Excerpts from a panel discussion on how to address the role of work in addressing homelessness:
Moderator: Kathie Shandera of United Way of Yellowstone County
Panelists: Steve Schwalb, president and CEO of Pioneer Human Services; Pioneer Senior Vice President Marla Gese; Paul Carlson of Seattle, regional director for the Interagency Council on Homelessness; Master Lube owner Bill Simmons; and Lisa Harmon, executive director Downtown Billings Alliance and past-chair of the Mayor's Committee on Homelessness.

  • MP3 chickletExcerpt #1 (MP3) Steve Schwalb talks about the beginnings of Pioneer Human Services. (9:39)
  • MP3 chickletExcerpt #2 (MP3) What's the success rate at Pioneer and to employers? Questions to Marla Gese and Steve Schwalb of Pioneer; Bill Simmons of Master Lube, and Lisa Harmon of Downtown Billings Alliance. (21:54)
  • MP3 chickletExcerpt #3 (MP3) Steve Schwalb taking about balancing concern from a neighborhood being home to one of Pioneer's work-release programs. (2:06)
  • MP3 chickletExcerpt #4 (MP3) Steve Schwalb on what is social enterprise. (5:11)

speaker iconBaucus - Economic Stimulus Package
aired February 1, 2008
With a vote looming in the U.S. Senate on a package to pump money into the ailing economy, Senator Max Baucus was in Billings to explain and rally support for his measure. The Democrat is the chief architect of Senate changes to the stimulus package passed this week by the U.S. House. Jackie Yamanaka reports from Billings.

Online Only Audio: Homelessness Interview
January 24, 2008
MP3 chickletHomelessness Interview (MP3)
Lisa Harmon chairs the Mayor's Committee on Homelessness. She spoke with and recorded this interview with John, a homeless man in Billings. They met March 15, 2007, at Beartooth Coffee Roasters to talk about what it's like to be homeless in Billings. John has called the Montana Rescue Mission "home" for the past dozen years. They talk about how he became homeless, what life is like at the Rescue Mission, and some of the challenges facing the homeless.

For more information:

speaker iconMaking Ends Meet - Employing the Homeless
aired January 23, 2008
In Billings, the Mayor's Committee on Homelessness has an idea on how to address the current workforce shortage ... but they know business owners may be reluctant to employ a homeless worker. That's why the committee is helping organize a two-day conference in February to talk candidly about the issue. As part of our continuing series on Making Ends Meet, Jackie Yamanaka has more on the effort by conference organizers to tackle one cause of homelessness and at the same time address the shortage of workers.
For more information:
Social Enterprise Conference - Billings, MT (.pdf file)

speaker iconRed Lodge - Affordable Housing
aired November 5, 2007
A group of homeowners in Red Lodge is closer to owning their mobile home park. Once the deal is closed, it will become Montana's first resident-owned community. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, this project is seen as a model for other Montana communities faced with the issue of affordable housing.

speaker iconBaucus - CHIP Update
aired September 27, 2007
Senator Max Baucus says he's heartened by the strong bipartisan support given this week to the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill 69 to 30. The House approved the measure and now it heads to the President's desk. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, federal lawmakers have taken actions so millions of children won't lose their health insurance coverage.

speaker iconPoverty Myths - Dana Toole
aired September 13, 2007
Health officials frustrated when their low-income clients miss appointments need to understand that people who live in poverty have unique challenges. That's according to social worker and mediator Dana Toole. She was a keynote speaker at the Montana Public Health conference. Jackie Yamanaka has more from Helena in the latest in our series, Making Ends Meet in Montana.

speaker iconCharity Dentistry
aired September 4, 2007

For Many Montanans, paying out-of-pocket for dental care is beyond their financial means--and if someone is low-income or disabled the financial stress is even greater. Severe pain is what finally drives them to find help. Over 150 dentists and more than 65 dental labs across Montana donate their services, mostly from their own offices. As a part of the ongoing series Making Ends Meet in Montana, Jackie Yamanaka reports from Kalispell on charitable dental care for adults.
For More Information: Montana Dental Association

speaker iconCharity Dentistry Raw Audio: Tiffany Wadman Interview
Tiffany Wadman talks candidly with YPR News Director Jackie Yamanaka and Dr. Bill Jones about her past meth use and how it led to her current dental problems. Wadman has rampant decay, commonly referred to as "meth mouth."

ListenCHIP Enrollment - Back to School
aired August 29, 2007

School is resuming across Montana. State health officials hope to use the start of school to reach out to families about a health insurance program for children. As part of our ongoing series, Making Ends Meet in Montana, Jackie Yamanaka reports from Helena on the challenges of filling those open slots.

Monthly CHIP enrollment figures:
Occupations of families enrolled in CHIP (.pdf)
Map of CHIP providers/statewide (.pdf)

ListenDeering Clinic
aired August 27, 2007

Health insurance is a big problem for many Montanans. The state ranks fourth in the nation for people without it. But access to quality health care is not limited to those with insurance. The Deering Community Health Center has been providing care to all local residents - with or without insurance. Kay Erickson has a profile of Deering Clinic as part of our ongoing series, Making Ends Meet in Montana.

ListenCHIP - Kickoff Campaign
aired August 15, 2007

Child advocates in Montana took part in a national "Cover the Uninsured" campaign to draw attention to the health care needs of the state's children. The campaign is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. At a press conference at the state Capitol, advocates and state officials urged Congress and President Bush to support the reauhtorization and expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program. Jackie Yamanaka reports.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

ListenMedicare Bus - Montana Tour
aired August 13, 2007

Federal and local health officials will be in three Montana communities this week to promote preventative health services offered under Medicare. Medicare is the federal health insurance program for the elderly. Jackie Yamanaka reports.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance:

ListenTester IHSHearing
aired August 14, 2007

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is holding a field hearing in Montana to discuss the ailing Indian Health Service system. I-H-S has chronic budget shortfalls and those who are sick often wait weeks - even years – for treatment. The Committee Chairman – Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota – will conduct the hearing on the Crow Reservation. Jackie Yamanaka reports.

Listen2007 Kids Count Report
aired July 25, 2007

The number of children who live in poverty nationwide continued to grow, according to an annual report on the well-being of the country's children. The 2007 Kids Count Data Book shows that trend in Montana as well. However, in Wyoming the number of children living in poverty declines. Jackie Yamanaka has more on how Montana and Wyoming are faring.

Kids Count:
Montana Kids Count:,1147,1150
Montana CHIP:
Wyoming Kids Count:
Wyoming Kid Care CHIP:

ListenCHIP Passes Senate Committee
aired July 19, 2007

A Senate committee voted to continue funding for a federal-state health insurance program that helps children in low income, working familes. As Jackie Yamanaka reports, this Children's Health Insurance Program reauthorization would cover an additional 12,000 Montana children over the next five years.

ListenDress for Success
aired May 28, 2007

Disadvantaged women face many barriers to employment. One is preparing for a job interview. But a Billings organization has been providing the skills and the attire to overcome that obstacle. Kay Erickson has more.

ListenSenate - Community Health
aired April 17, 2007

The Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill to provide one-time start up costs to build Community Health Clinics. The action came after a Republican legislator from Billings successfully blasted House Bill 406 from the table to the Senate floor for debate. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

ListenQuiet Health Care Bills
aired April 6, 2007

Some high-profile health care bills are working their way through the Montana Legislature. This includes a measure to increase eligibility for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program. There are, however, others that are quietly working their way through the process. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol on two such bills.

Child Health
aired April 3, 2007

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to three bills aimed at addressing the health and well-being of children. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

Energy Conservation/Weatherization
aired April 3, 2007

The House Taxation Committee is considering a bill to help some Montanans weatherize their homes. Senate Bill 210 would increase an existing tax credit. As Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol, the goal is to help low income residents with their utility costs.

CHIP Expansion - House Appropriations
aired April 2, 2007

A House committee took testimony on a bill that would allow Montana to cover more children under the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Senate Bill 22 has already cleared the Senate. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

College Debt
aired March 12, 2007

In less than two months the class of 2007 will graduate from Montana's colleges and universities. Many will leave with a sizeable college loan to repay. Kay Erickson explores college debt and its effect on the workforce.

Health Insurance Coverage
aired February 27, 2007

Lawmakers approved two bills that seek to expand health coverage for Montanans. One bill would authorize the creation of a plan for universal coverage. It would be drafted for consideration in two years. The other bill would allow dependents of state employees to remain on their parent's health plan until the age of 26. Jackie Yamanaka has morefrom the Capitol.

More Power Plants
aired February 27, 2007

Link to proposed legislation
The Montana House gave preliminary approval to a bill to expedite the building of new power plants. The floor's debate came on the same day five Western governors pledged to work together to reduce greenhouse gases to address concerns about global warming. This includes using renewable sources - like wind and solar - to generate electricity. The National Governor's Association is meeting in Washington, D.C. House Bill 405 seeks to make it easier to permit power plants in Montana. Democrats criticized the bill, saying it guts the state's environmental laws. Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol.

Homeowner/Renter Tax
aired February 26, 2007

A Republican plan to reduce property taxes barely won preliminary approval in the House. The bill would have the state pick up more of the share of the cost of funding public schools. Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol.

Housing and Medical Care
aired February 26, 2007

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to two bills to help low-income Montanans with housing and medical care. Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol.

Mental Health Courts
aired February 26, 2007

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill to allow state District Courts to establish special courts to serve the mentally ill. Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol.

Baucus – joint session xgr
aired February 21, 2007

Health care is the number one issue for Montanans and all Americans, said Senator Max Baucus. His remarks came before a joint session of the Montana Legislature. Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol.

Minimum wage – change
aired February 21, 2007

A bill that sought to change the way employees who receive tips are paid was defeated in the House. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

Two Low-Income Bills
aired February 20, 2007

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to two bills aimed at helping low-income Montanans. One addresses the health care needs of the children of the working poor, the second bill gives local governments the authority to set special rates for low-income residents. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

Juneau – Indian Ed bill
aired February 8, 2007

A lawmaker from Browning says Montana schools are just starting to fund a Constitutional mandate to teach all students about the state’s American Indian heritage and culture. State Senator Carol Juneau is worried the state may be sliding back on its obligation. As Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol, Juneau wants lawmakers to provide more money to help put these new program into effect.

Mental Health Courts
aired February 6, 2007

At the Montana Legislature, lawmakers were told individuals who suffer from mental illness need treatment, not jail time. A bill to allow the creation of Mental Health Treatment Courts was introduced in Helena. Jackie Yamanaka has more.

Making Ends Meet Feature: Full-Time Kindergarten
aired February 5, 2007

speaker iconFull-Time Kindergarten [WMA]
mp3 buttonFull-Time Kindergarten [MP3]
At the Montana Legislature, lawmakers are considering SB 123 [SB 123 bill text] and SB 152 [SB 152 bill text], which would help local schools pay for full-time Kindergarten programs, if approved at the local level. Currently, nearly 90 schools across the state offer full-time programs. Most are located in low-income neighborhoods. To fund their programs, these schools are using federal dollars aimed at cushioning the impact of poverty. Jackie Yamanaka recently visited Bryant Elementary in Helena and has this snapshot of one full-time kindergarten class.

Bryant Elementary Bryant Elementary students
Front entrance to Bryant Elementary School in Helena
(photo courtesy of Bryant Elementary)
Some of the kids enjoying a school event
(photo courtesy of Bryant Elementary)

State of the Tribes
aired February 1, 2007
Carl Venne's entire speech

The chairman of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council says Indian People are not sharing the economic prosperity much of Montana is enjoying. Carl Venne is also Crow Tribal Chairman. He delivered a state of the tribal nation's address to a joint session of the Montana Legislature.

Tuition reduction
aired January 30, 2007

At the Montana Legislature, the House killed a bill to reduce tuition for full-time, resident students who attend one of the state’s colleges or universities. The bill died on a tie – 50-to-50 – vote. Constitution Party member Rick Jore joined all 49 Democrats in voting against the bill. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

Student Loan Forgiveness
aired January 26, 2007

A bill to allow the state Board of Regents to help some students with their student loan debt load was presented to a Senate committee. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

CHIP Floor Debate
aired January 24, 2007

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill to potentially increase the number of children who are eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

"Rainy Day" Bill
aired January 17, 2007

A Senate committee is scheduled to hear about a bill to put aside some of the projected budget surplus into a savings account. The bill by Republican Senator Rick Liable comes at the request of the Legislative Finance Committee and the governor. Senate Bill 137 is scheduled for a hearing before the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

Payday & Title Loans
aired January 15, 2007

Link to proposed legislation
At the Montana Legislature, a House committee heard about a bill to tighten regulations on the payday and title loan industries. Supporters of the bill say the industry preys on low-income Montanans who become trapped in an unending cycle of debt. Opponents say House Bill 29 will drive them out of business. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

CHIP Eligibility
aired January 11, 2007

Link to proposed legislation
At the Montana Legislature, a Senate committee heard about a bill that seeks to expand the number of children eligible for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP provides coverage to working families who earn too much to qualify for programs like Medicaid, but cannot afford health insurance. As Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol, Senate Bill 22 seeks to raise the eligibility guidelines in the hopes of insuring more children.

Energy Assistance
aired January 9, 2007

Link to proposed legislation
A state agency is asking lawmakers for authority to tap a rainy day account to help low-income Montanans weatherize their homes. The Department of Public Health and Human Services is currently spending only the interest earned from the account. As Jackie Yamanaka reports from the Capitol, agency officials think more Montanas would be helped if they could tap into the prinicpal.

Low cost electricity
aired January 9, 2007

A state legislator from Billings wants to make sure Montana consumers are paying the lowest cost possible for their electricity. Republican Michael Lange presented two bills yesterday before a House committee. Jackie Yamanaka has more from the Capitol.

Ronald McDonald Care Mobile
aired January 8, 2007

Almost a third of Montana children have no health insurance. That's well above the average of 23%. That number has dropped over the years, thanks to the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). But CHIP can't do it all. Then programs like the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile step in. It's a mobile dental and medical care unit that's been rolling down Eastern Montana highways for six years. It provides free dental and medical services for the state's children. Kay Erickson reports on the program.

Predatory Lenders Legislation
aired December 13, 2006

Link to proposed legislation
Link to current MT law regarding title loans
State Attorney General Mike McGrath will unveil proposed legislation aimed at the payday and title loan industry tomorrow in Great Falls. The state Department of Justice requested a bill for the upcoming legislative session to reduce excessive interest rates charged for those loans.

Senior Nutrition Program
aired November 24, 2006

In 2007, Montana retirees will see their Social Security checks increase about $33, although an increase in Medicare Part B insurance payments will take a bite out of any additional dollars. Those Montanans over the age of 65 who live month to month on their Social Security checks will welcome this as they try to pay their monthly bills and keep food on the table. In the Billings area, the Billings Food Bank helps seniors with their food needs with a program that supplies fresh produce as well as the food staples. Kay Erickson reports on this program, as part of our ongoing Making Ends Meet series.

Making Ends Meet Special: Poverty and Education
aired October 19, 2006

speaker iconListen to this program using Windows Media Player
mp3 buttonListen to/download an MP3
YPR News Director Jackie Yamanaka moderates this call-in exploration of the role of education in addressing issues of poverty. Guests Greg Mortensen, Executive Director of the Central Asia Institute, and Chris Lohse of the Montana Office of Public Instruction discuss their efforts and observations and take listener comments and questions.

State Workers/Multi-job
aired September 5, 2006

A recent anti-union advertising campaign criticized the wages paid to state employees. The basic theme is Montanans are served by hostile providers of poor service by public employees who receive excessive compensation under their union contracts. One agency director called the campaign an insult and untrue. For some public employees, their state wages don't cover the cost of living. As Jackie Yamanaka reports in our continuing series, Making Ends Meet in Montana, some find it an economic necessity to work more than one job.

Interfaith Hospitality Network
aired August 22, 2006

Families in Montana are facing hard times. The state's demographics show families with children are now over 50% of the state's homeless population. They seek shelter the same way other homeless Montanans do. They move in with family or friends, in motels or shelters, or live out of their vehicles. These families in the Billings area have an alternative to living in a shelter. And the alternative is more than just housing. It's a path to a better life. As part of our ongoing series, Making Ends Meet in Montana, Kay Erickson explains just how Interfaith Hospitality Network fills a need.

Tester on Part D "Doughnut Hole"
aired August 9, 2006

Democratic Senate candidate Jon Tester called on Congress to fix the coverage gap in the prescription drug program for seniors. He says that gap is harming Montana seniors who are already struggling to pay skyrocketing prescription drug prices. But Senator Conrad Burns says talking about fixes is premature. As part of our continuing series on "Making Ends Meet in Montana," Jackie Yamanaka reports on the U.S. Senate candidates' views on this issue.

CHIP Openings/Back to School
aired August 8, 2006

The Montana "Covering Kids and Families" coalition will launch an effort tomorrow to enroll eligible, uninsured children in a federal-state helath insurance program. The Children's Health Insurance Program - or CHIP - provides coverage for the children of working, low-income families. Jackie Yamanaka reports. Other resources: State Health Access Data Assistance Center, a research center and health policy resource, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Self Help Housing
aired July 17, 2006

Home ownership is an American Dream. But many working poor and low income families cannot afford this dream, even with low mortgage rates. As part of our ongoing series on Making Ends Meet in Montana, Kay Erickson is in Laurel to look at a federal program that uses the family's sweat and muscle to construct a dream. Click here for more information on USDA’s Rural Development program.

Economists View Poverty
aired July 10, 2006

Montanans' per capita income rose last year to 39th in the nation. That's up from the state's lowest ranking in 1995 of 47th. Economists from the university of Montana's Bureau of Business and Economic Research say despite that good news, many Montanans are still struggling to get by. In the first part in our occasional series on this issue, Jackie Yamanaka has an economist's perspective on "Making Ends Meet in Montana."

Greg Mortenson
aired March 15, 2006

The founder and director of the Central Asia Institute in Bozeman believes a basic education is the key to tackling poverty, to improving maternal and child health, and fighting terrorism. Greg Mortenson is currently in the middle of a nationwide tour to promote his book on his efforts. Jackie Yamanaka reports.

Greg Mortenson Interview: Three Cups of Tea
aired March 15, 2006

For just over a dozen years, Greg Mortenson has dedicated his life to promoting and providing community-based education – especially for girls – in the most remote regions of Central Asia. A book detailing his efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan has just been published.The book is titled: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Misson to fight Terrorism and Build Nations . . . One School at a Time.


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