The Policy Institute formed in 2001, originally as a project of the Montana Human Rights Network. At that time, the focus of the institute's work was economic issues which had broad appeal, but were not being addressed in a comprehensive manner by issue- or constituent-based progressive organizations active in Montana.
In 2004, The Policy Institute launched the Leadership Seminar Series, a program that engages 20-25 emerging progressive leaders in Montana in a four-part seminar series over the course of one year. Since the program’s inception, more than 100 individuals have graduated from the program.
In 2005, The Policy Institute expanded its work to include focusing on fiscal policy and state budget analysis, with the purpose of recognizing the inter-relationship between tax policy and budget allocation.
During the last few legislative sessions, The Policy Institute has supported efforts to enact a state-level earned income tax credit, repeal Montana’s oil and gas tax holiday and increase the capital gains tax rate. The Policy Institute has also engaged in work regarding clean energy, including leading a coalition of Montana conservation organizations, labor unions and progressive building contractors in an effort that led to the adoption of comprehensive new energy conservation codes for all new residential commercial buildings in the state.
The Policy Institute has issued many opinion pieces, reports and whitepapers over the years on issues including tax expenditure legislation, the Universal System Benefits program in Montana and in 2011, "Profiles in Hypocrisy: Montana Legislators Assail Government Spending While Benefitting from Farm Subsidy Programs" and "'Tax is Not a Four-Letter Word: Ideas for a More Progressive Taxation System in Montana."
The Policy Institute also expanded the Leadership Seminar Series program in 2011 to include two Advanced Special Topic Seminars per year and a special session of the program, specifically designed for Native American participants.
We are also working to expand our work in the field of energy in our state and region, advocating for the development of clean, renewable sources of power as a way to address the growing threat of global climate change.
Today, The Policy Institute’s mission is to blend authoritative research and hands-on political engagement to create public policy based on economic justice, fair taxation, corporate accountability, and environmental responsibility.