The Montana Senate approved a state budget today that’s about $19 million above the budget passed by the House of Representatives.
The state budget moved out of the Senate in a brief morning vote 29-20.
Republican Llew Jones, chair of Senate Finance and Claims calls the budget "austere," but says lawmakers tried to make the necessary cuts away from programs that impact people.
"The package that exists now is a good solid package that will take care of Montana’s needs," Jones says.
The budget approved by the Senate would be a 0.6 percent increase to state spending over the previous two years. It now goes back to the House floor for a vote to approve the Senate's spending amendments on what the House previously passed.
Republican Nancy Ballance, who carried the House budget bill says the Senate did what she expected, but it's unclear what lawmakers in the House will do when they have another look at the budget.
"You just never know until it's final. But I would say the budget looks pretty clean, in line with what we expected the spending to be."
If the House doesn't agree with any of the amendments, the state budget bill will end up in what’s known as a conference committee between both House and Senate leaders.