Projected State Budget Cuts Raise Legal, Constitutional Concerns

Sep 29, 2017

An independent analysis of Montana’s budget deficit was released today. A legislative committee is set to review proposed cuts to the state’s budget next week.

The analysis of Governor Steve Bullock’s proposed reductions to state spending was written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division.

It raises potential legal and constitutional concerns about how state agencies will operate if the $330 million in cuts Bullock proposed are made.

Bullock is required by law to cut government spending if there is a projected deficit in the state’s general fund.

The budget that legislators passed and that Governor Steve Bullock signed this spring needs to be cut because of an expensive fire season and state revenues coming in far lower than lawmakers predicted.

State Budget Director Dan Villa announced the possible cuts last month:

“At this point, we can’t exclude any expenditure from consideration," Villa said. 

On Wednesday and Thursday the Legislative Fiscal Committee will take up the proposed budget reductions.

It outlines a $105 million cut to the state health department, $42 million dollar cut to higher education, and a $40 million cut to the state corrections department.

The committee hearing will be lawmakers’ and the public’s final opportunity to make recommendations on the reductions to state spending before the governor makes the cuts final.