School Transportation Grants On The State Budget Chopping Block

Nov 13, 2017

As part of Montana's special legislative session, Governor Bullock is asking public schools to forego tens of millions of dollars in the coming years in state transportation block grants.

Public schools would share about 6 percent of the burden to fill the state’s $227 million dollar budget shortfall under the proposed Senate Bill 2. It would require school districts in Montana to start tapping into their reserve funds to pay for transportation costs, like buses, for students.

Dennis Parman with the Montana Rural Education Association says that could cause some smaller districts without much of a financial reserve to raise property taxes.

"When you can’t use your reserves anymore you’re going to go to your local taxpayers."

But Parman’s association and representatives of MEA-MFT, and the School Administrators of Montana, among others, say K-12 schools are willing to do their share to help fill the state’s budget gap. It could, however, cause pain among districts in the state, they say.

Senate Bill 2 would eliminate the transportation block grants in 2019, saving the state nearly $12 million in general fund spending that year.

Lawmakers could take an initial vote on the bill Tuesday.