Governor Brian Schweitzer... From Montana, for Montana.
Brian was born in Havre in 1955, the fourth of six children -- five sons and a daughter -- of Kay and Adam Schweitzer. Raised on his parent's registered cattle ranch in the Judith Basin, Brian is a third generation Montanan. His German and Irish grandparents immigrated to Montana near the turn of the century and homesteaded in Hill County, and they are buried there today.
Brian earned a Bachelor of Science degree in International Agronomy from Colorado State University, and later earned a Master of Science degree in Soil Science from Montana State University. Brian married Nancy Hupp, his college sweetheart, in 1981. Nancy was raised in Billings and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from Montana State University.
A Montana farmer and rancher, Brian has been signing the front side of a paycheck for over 25 years. He has owned and operated Montana farms in Flathead, Sanders, Rosebud, and Judith Basin Counties. His business and agricultural experience is broad and deep, including extensive farming and ranching experience in Montana, and successful agricultural business projects on five continents.
After graduation from Montana State, Brian and Nancy began a career of irrigation development that took them to Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. He has built hundreds of miles of roads, poured thousands of yards of concrete, buried many miles of pipe, and built hundreds of structures, from houses to warehouses to distillation plants. During seven years in Saudi Arabia, Brian developed over 28,000 acres of irrigated cropland.
But when it was time to raise a family, Brian and Nancy returned home to Montana in 1986, and began building a ranching and irrigation business in Montana.
In 1993, Brian was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to serve on the Montana State USDA Farm Service Agency committee. He served for seven years with the FSA, and his three-person committee was responsible for the operation of 46 county offices, 300 employees and a budget of more than $300 million. He resigned in 1999 to run for U.S. Senate.
Brian has been active in developing and implementing national farm policy, and ensuring that the voice of local Montanans is heard. In 1995, he received an award from the Secretary of Agriculture for outreach efforts to Native Americans. In 1996, Brian was appointed to the Montana Rural Development Partnership Board. In 1999, he was appointed to the National Drought Task Force, a 16-member national board, to review policy and report to Congress an improved coordination response to drought emergencies nationwide.
Brian’s life experiences are broad and diverse. He has learned to fly his own plane, obtained a Montana Boiler’s license, has communicated in several languages and has a chemical applicator’s license.
On November 2, 2004 Brian was elected as Montana's first democratic governor since 1988. Brian Schweitzer became the 23rd Governor of the great state of Montana on January 3, 2005.
Schweitzer is known for his unsparing use of the veto, a power he has exercised 95 times in his eight years as governor. He vetoed 74 bills in the 2011 legislature; none of his vetoes were overridden. For instance, in April 2011, Schweitzer made news with his unconventional use of a branding iron to publicly veto several Republican-led bills.He denounced them as "frivolous, unconstitutional and just bad ideas" that were "in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana." He has endorsed an expansion of wind, solar, and biofuel technologies as well as a plan to turn coal into diesel fuel.
Montana has had the highest ending fund balances in the state’s history under his administration, with an average ending fund balance of $414 million. The average balance of the eighteen years prior was $54 million. Under his leadership, Montana increased the number of citizens that graduate from college by more than any other state.