Posted: Sep 18, 2013 2:29 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Sep 18, 2013 8:39 PM
MISSOULA - Some see this week's Montana Economic Development Summit as organizer Max Baucus' "swan song", with the state's senior senator leaving office.
However others at the two day gathering sounded interest in keeping the gathering as a regular affair in the future. Reporter Dennis Bragg found out that even Sen. Baucus himself indicates he will be back in some roll.
Another summit is in the books, but the question remains as to what happens next as Senator Max Baucus is stepping aside.
Thanks to big name speakers, and big lines, there's no doubt this week's Montana Economic Development Summit in Butte was a success.
An estimated 3,000 people packed the main sessions and flooded the breakout panels, with some of the most prominent names in U.S. business swinging through.
But a constant topic of discussion was will the summit happen again with Sen. Baucus leaving office
"I'm going to do what I can to make sure this is not our last summit. I want to stay very involved and will stay very involved. Heck, this is my home," Sen. Baucus said.
There's been speculation in the national political press one reason so many heavy hitters came to Butte, or stepped forward to sponsor the summit, was to curry favor for Sen. Baucus' new push for tax reform.
Sen. Baucus continually stressed the summit wasn't "political", but the tax reform idea was sounded again and again on Monday.
"If we can reform the code, and get rid of a lot of this junk that's in the code, a lot of people in America and around the world can say, hey those Americans are getting their act together."
So who picks up the ball from here? The Montana Chamber of Commerce has expressed an interest. Speculation has pointed to Sen. Jon Tester, who has sponsored small business opportunity workshops across the state.
Sen. Tester's spokeswoman says the senator, "will continue to do everything he can to help grow Montana's economy", but now there aren't indications he will inherit the summit.
Sen. Baucus gives every indication he wants to continue working on Montana economic issues when he moves to the private sector, and that may still involve the summit.
"I'm going to be working on that, one way or another very, very seriously because it's my passion. It's what I care about," The Democrat said.