MTPR

State Revenue Projections Grow Amid Debate Over Budget

Mar 20, 2017

Montana may have more than $100 million in additional revenue coming into the state than expected just a few months ago.

The revenue forecast released this afternoon by the state's nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division shows the most significant uptick in state earnings coming from individual income taxes and corporation income taxes. It says state revenues from oil and natural gas production taxes are expected to decrease over the next 3 years.

The report comes days after the Montana House of Representatives passed a fiercely debated budget along party lines — based on the previous, lower revenue forecast.

Democrats and Republicans are arguing how much the state should spend in a tight budget year on healthcare, education and general government programs.

If lawmakers want to use any of this projected $100 million increase in revenue, they must first vote to adopt the new report, or parts of it. Until then, the revenue projection will not be incorporated into the state budget.

Leaders in the Republican majority have previously said any projected increases in state revenue would go to replenish the state’s general revenue fund, sometimes referred to as the state’s rainy day fund, rather than fund additional appropriations in state agencies.

The state budget’s first hearing in the Senate is scheduled for Wednesday. Hearings on the budget bill in the Senate Finance and Claims committee are scheduled through the early part of next week.