HAVE ANY idea how much the top one percent of Montanans earn on average? It is $304,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

​The state with the wealthiest one percenters is Connecticut, with an average income of $678K. The lowest is Arkansas at $228K.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Montana ranks No. 37.

How about our neighboring states? North Dakota does pretty well, coming in at No. 6 with the top one percent averaging $502K, probably due to all that oil and gas income. South Dakota is at $404K, Wyoming at $388K, and Idaho at $280K.

ARE MONTANANS some of the smartest folks in the country? Those who like to think so now have some ammunition to back them up.

An analysis by a web site called safehome.org says Montana is the fifth smartest state in the country. It follows only New Jersey, Utah, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. You can find the study at www.safehome.org/smartest-americans/

So how did the site determine just how "smart" a state is? It used such measures as this (Montana scores included): The percent of adults 25+ with bachelor’s degrees: 21.7%; public high school graduation rate (2016-17): 86%; median SAT score (2018-19): 1,199; and average composite ACT score (2017-18): 20.

Surprisingly, the state with with the lowest score was Idaho, right next door to Montana. That doesn't seem to add up, does it? Others at the bottom of the heap were Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.

GOV. Steve Bullock got some valuable air time recently for his presidential campaign. Only trouble is, the exposure was on CNN, which has lost a large portion of its audience in recent years.

CNN's town hall featuring Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lured just 402,000 viewers -- the lowest number of the year for all the network's town hall events.

Viewership was down 25 percent overall, and 38 percent for the coveted 25-54 age bracket, compared to the average Sunday numbers for CNN from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

MONTANA has jumped into the top 10 of Bankrate.com's annual ranking of best retirement states. More specifically, the Big Sky state finished No. 9 -- ahead of states such as retirement havens Arizona and Nevada.

Montana gots its best mark -- No. 2 -- in the culture category, and a ranking of No. 16 in affordability. Its worst ranking -- no surprise here -- was No. 45 for weather. The state also received a 20 in the well category and a 31 for crime.

The top five states in this year's rankings were Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. The bottom five were Maryland, New York, Alaska, Illinois, and Washington.

DESPITE making several campaign trips to Iowa, Gov. Steve Bullock didn't win any support in the latest Iowa Poll of who leads in that state among the Democratic presidential contenders.

The poll shows Joe BIden with the lead, with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg in a close race for second. 

Bullock, who got into the Democratic presidential race late because of Montana's legislative session, didn't garner a single vote. In another part of the poll, 9 percent of those polled said they were actively considering Bullock. But there were 16 other candidates ahead of the Montana Democrat in that category.

Bullock's lack of support so far for his presidential ambitions is threatening his chances of getting on the stage for the first debate. Bullock and Montana Democrats said the rules that may keep him out of the debate are unfair.

MONTANANS enjoy seeing the state at the top of many national rankings, but there's one that doesn't justify much pride: Deaths from drunk driving.

“Montana is actually tied for first place in the entire nation for DUI fatalities,” says Kelley Parker-Wathne, Gallatin County DUI Task Force coordinator. “The alarm bells that go off is just a sad statistic.”

Montana also has a reputation for some of the nation's weakest DUI laws, and the recent legislative session tried to stiffen them. But time ran out on efforts to strengthen the DUI laws at the session's end.


A group takes a tour of the MSU campus in late June. Montana University system officials reversed course this week, recommending that students and staffers be required to wear face masks when schools reopen this fall. (Bozeman Chronicle)


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​              A daily digest of Montana news

July 12, 2020




Liberal group plans canvas to turn out Democratic voters

2 Billings public health workers test positive for COVID-19

MT sees 3 more COVID-19 deaths tied to Billings facility

Different counties have different approaches to dealing w/ COVID-19

An update on Montana's coronavirus closurs, restrictions, exemptions

20 have died in Corrections custody since notices stopped being issued

Man accused of tasing people outside Butte bar pleads not guilty

Glacier Park's Sun Road will open to Logan Pass next week

MT university officials reverse course, now want to require face masks

9th Circuit Court restores protections for Yellowstone grizzlies

Cooney fined $1,000 for state's violating ethics laws

US House race now a tossup, Democrat's poll suggests

Flap over distancing rules delays Ravalli Co health board meeting

State Justice Department manager faces 2 felony charges

Montana one of top states with railroad trespass deaths

State changes practice of public notice of prison deaths

MT school officials say local control should prevail over Trump demands

Feds withdraw plans to rename 2 campgrounds near Helena

43 residents, 15 staffers at Billings care home test positive for COVID

Governor issues emergency testing order for assisted living facilities

MSU gives $3.5 million in virus emergency aid to students

Judge blocks state from enforcing new absentee ballot law

Great Falls driver may have set car on fire before fleeing

MT schools make plans to reopen, but it won't be business as usual

Forest Service looks to expand broadband service on public lands

Mother of student charged with assault says he was bullied

Lewis & Clark Public Health wants to limit large gatherings

3 die in suspicious fire in Corvallis apartment

US Supreme Court hands setback to Keystone XL pipeline

Troy man denies lighting dog on fire, tampering with witnesses


Bookings at Whitefish inns down 25 to 50 percent this summer

Missoula biotech firm working on COVID vaccine raises $22M

Who got Paycheck Protection loans in Montana

State's malt barley industry takes hit as beer demand wanes

Billings Gazette newsroom workers vote to unionize

MT hospitality industry could be hurt by foreign visa suspension

Working from home in Montana gets more popular, attractive

Realtors seeing great out-of-state interest in Montana properties



Only '50-50' chance of doing fall sports in Big Sky, commish says

Young receivers fight for slots on MSU offense

Loss of UM football could be big hit to Missoula's economy

It's official: Pioneer League season canceled for this year

Darby coach suspended after online comments on protesters

Montana's Marc Mariani named to ESPN's AFC South all-decade team 

Former Bobcat Mike Person says he'll retire after 9 years in NFL

Former Arizona defensive end to transfer to UM

MSU football player tests positive for COVID-19



Montana has mixed history when it comes to marijuana laws

We cannot tolerate protesters personal threats against journalists

Lawyers have big voice in filling our Supreme Court seats

How Democrats win in a red state like Montana

Time to ditch the Public Service Commission

State must be careful in how it spends federal COVID funds

Don't rush reopening the economy. But don't delay either


Kalispell native returns to Flathead to film movie

'Ringing Rocks' a hidden -- but audible -- Montana treasure

National Gallery of Art gets painting by Salish artist

Book examines mystery of only man ever hanged in Gallatin Co jail

New book lets everyone fly along with 'Miss Montana' plane

Roundup artist creating bronze monument to famous cowboy

Rare Piebald deer spotted in Missoula neighborhood


Three Forks country music festival postponed until August

Under the Big Sky Music Festival postponed until 2021

Guns N' Roses cancel Missoula concert slated for Aug. 26

Toby Keith concert in Billings rescheduled for Sept. 17

Foreigner concert in Butte rescheduled for Oct. 25

MSU's Kenny Chesney concert rescheduled for July of 2021

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