One of the amendments to the state budget Montana lawmakers shot down today would have given more funding to a program that helps pay for long-term care for low-income seniors and disabled Montanans.
Republican Chair of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee Rob Cook of Conrad says there’s money left over from what was set aside for that program from the last biennium.
Cook says the legislature’s budget proposes about $3 million less to the program than what was spent last biennium.
"You look at this $42 million that wasn’t spent, why wasn’t that spent on provider rate increases?" asks Cook. "Why didn’t that go to direct care? That’s a good question, isn’t it?”
Democratic Rep. Laurie Bishop of Livingston supported the amendment.
"When I hear something like $42 million that went unfunded, my first question is, ‘how do we figure out how to connect people with those services?’ Not, ‘how do we take those services away?' " says Bishop.
The amendment failed 42-58, with most Republicans voting against it.
Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.