MTPR

Dan Villa

Montana's Firefighting Fund Running On Empty

13 hours ago
Montana is spending over a million dollars a day fighting wildfires. These are Goat Creek and Sliderock fires, July 23, 2017.
Inciweb

Montana's firefighting fund will run dry by the end of the week, forcing state officials to begin drawing money from emergency reserves to keep crews and equipment on the front lines of the country's worst collection of wildland fires.

As of today, more than $168 million of mostly federal money has gone into battling about 80 large fires that have charred more than 400,000 acres statewide.

Montana is spending over a million dollars a day fighting wildfires. These are Goat Creek and Sliderock fires, July 23, 2017.
Inciweb

The money set aside to fight wildfires in Montana is rapidly dwindling as portions of the state are in extreme drought conditions. But John Tubbs, Director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, says there’s more money available to keep up the firefighting efforts, in other pockets of state government.

“We don’t run out,” Tubbs says.

Governor Bullock, with Budget Director Dan Villa. Governor Bullock released his revenue and spending plan Nov. 15 at the Capitol in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney

State revenues have again fallen short of lawmakers’ expectations and could trigger funding cuts across state agencies in the coming months.

Lawmakers Sit Down With Governor To Talk Bonding

Apr 25, 2017

Lawmakers wrapped up Day 85 of their scheduled 90-day Legislative session with no agreement reached on a bonding package.

That morning, 11 legislators sat down with Governor Steve Bullock, Budget Director Dan Villa and other staff in the Governor's Conference Room to talk about possibilities. Specifically, what would it take to reach the 67 votes needed in the House to pass a bonding bill.

Among the bills put on the table were those dealing with abortion and charter schools. House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, said if those bills were part of the deal, the Republican majority would lose Democratic votes, which could doom bonding.


Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

A proposal for a new kind of rainy-day fund to protect Montana from future boom and bust swings in the state budget passed out of a House committee Wednesday.

Lawmakers are considering a change to how the state saves money, creating a new system allowing the state to react more quickly when it faces a shortfall in revenue.

William Marcus

Governor Steve Bullock's office warned lawmakers Tuesday that they’re risking a special legislative session and budget cuts if they rely too much on new, more optimistic state revenue projections to fund the state budget.

Lawmakers overseeing the state budget, today started working to fill in a financial gap in state health department programs for senior citizens and people with disabilities. But, it’s unclear where some of that money is coming from.

Montana Lawmakers Begin Sifting Through Updated State Budget

Mar 7, 2017
William Marcus

The Montana Legislature is now more than halfway through its 90-day session, and today, the House Appropriations Committee began slogging through House Bill 2, otherwise known as the state budget.

Familiar Infrastructure Ideas Return to 2017 Session

Jan 17, 2017

There was a bit of déjà vu surrounding a bill that seeks to use coal tax money to pay for crumbling public works and state buildings.

“I think the bill is familiar to many of us,” said Dan Villa, Governor Steve Bullock’s budget director.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
Mike Albans

State lawmakers consider big budget cuts this session, including $93 million in cuts for the Department of Health and Human Services. The Montana Legislature begins preparations for the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and two familiar names are circulating for the special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s congressional seat — Gianforte and Baucus.

Join Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson, and Rob Saldin now for this episode of  "Capitol Talk."

GOP Blames Bullock for State Budget Woes

Jan 9, 2017

GOP lawmakers lined up behind their leaders to challenge the Bullock Administration’s budget proposals

Republican legislators blame Democratic Governor Steve Bullock for Montana’s budget woes, saying they’ll fix the state’s ailing finances.


Montana Capitol, Helena.
Mike Albans

This week on "Capitol Talk": Democrats and Republicans are on a collision course over the state budget. The quickly dissipating spirit of cooperation and non-partisanship at the Legislature. The Republican and Democratic rift over infrastructure projects. And the growing number of candidates, both inside and outside the legislature, for Ryan Zinke's soon-to-be-vacant seat.

State agencies are offering up about $5.5 million from their current budgets to help lawmakers shore up the state’s checkbook.

Republican legislative leaders made the request in hopes the agencies would help them with the hard decision of further reducing budgets.


Montana’s cash cushion has grown smaller since the 2015 Legislative session largely because of declining revenue from natural resource extraction and lower tax collections.

That’s why lawmakers are summoning state agencies to see if they would make spending cuts in their current budgets to help Montana’s ailing “checkbook.”


Governor Bullock, with Budget Director Dan Villa. Governor Bullock released his revenue and spending plan Nov. 15 at the Capitol in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney

A new tax on medical marijuana proposed by Governor Steve Bullock would add an estimated million plus dollars a year to government bank accounts. That’s almost 3 times more than the governor’s office says will eventually be needed to support the state’s medical marijuana reform.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, Republican from Stevensville.
Corin Cates-Carney

On Thursday, lawmakers got their first look at how much money is likely to be in the state’s checking account as they head into the upcoming legislative session.

It turns out that, even after a year of economic downturn and declining sales of coal, oil and gas, the state’s revenue picture is actually looking up.

Governor Bullock, with Budget Director Dan Villa. Governor Bullock released his revenue and spending plan Nov. 15 at the Capitol in Helena.
Corin Cates-Carney

The Bullock administration’s new budget released Tuesday outlines an increase in state spending of just over one percent over the next two years. This despite declining state revenue from the sales of coal, oil and gas.

Montana Capitol.
Eric Whitney

Republican lawmakers took to the Capitol steps Tuesday to discuss the state’s revenue outlook and criticize Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s administration for the handling of the state budget.

A client bedroom at the Assessment and Stabilization Unit (ASU).
Steve Jess

More Montanans with developmental disabilities will be moving into community-based care under a plan approved today in Boulder.

MDC, The treatment and housing center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is set to close in June 2017.
Dan Boyce

The committee charged with closing the Montana Developmental Center has voted to keep part of the Boulder facility open indefinitely.

Fifteen MDC Clients To Move Out Next Month

Aug 27, 2015
Committee members tour the common room in the high security Assessment and Stabilization Unit, or ASU.   Up to four residents share the building.  The furniture is designed to resist damage.
Steve Jess

Fifteen residents of the Montana Developmental Center in Boulder will be moved to group homes over the next month, in part because of a staff shortage at the Center.

William Marcus

Budget officials from the Montana Governor’s office faced an angry panel of state lawmakers Wednesday morning. Members of the Legislative Audit Committee demanded to know why a crucial report on the state’s finances was issued in May instead of March, but also contained multiple mistakes, with the potential to cost taxpayers money.

MDC, The treatment and housing center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is set to close in June 2017.
Dan Boyce

Monday in Helena, an appointed committee began preparations to close the Montana Developmental Center (MDC) and put its clients into community-based treatment. The panel is also being asked to deal with sinking employee morale.

Early Education Funding Fails To Make The Cut In Senate Budget

Apr 9, 2015

The Republican-controlled Senate today gave preliminary approval to the state’s main budget bill. The GOP majority allowed only a few technical amendments and resisted attempts by Democrats to add additional funding or programs to House Bill 2. This includes a Bullock Administration proposal to fund early childhood education.

Senate Committee Restores Some Funding Cut By House

Apr 3, 2015
Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee added about $55 million of general fund dollars back into the state budget. That’s according to preliminary figures from the Legislative Fiscal Division.

Not quite half of that amount was to cover cost over-runs in the current biennium.

This year’s cost overruns total about $31 million.

Budget Director: House Budget Inadequate

Mar 30, 2015
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

The state budget director criticized the work of the House on the state's budget for the coming biennium.

The comments came as the Senate Finance and Claims Committee started its review this morning.

State Budget Director Dan Villa didn't pull any punches in describing the work of the House on the budget.

Montana Lawmakers Clash Over State Revenue Estimate

Mar 23, 2015
Montana Legislature

Lawmakers are considering whether to increase the amount of revenue the state of Montana is projected to collect in taxes and fees over the coming three years.

The revenue estimate is an important number for lawmakers to consider as they craft the state budget and consider tax cuts for the coming two years.

The proposed figure is the latest compromise.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk", Sally, Mike and Chuck cover pre-school education's tough reception at the legislature, the infrastructure funding debate, Medicaid expansion passions, and concealed carry on campus.

"Capitol Talk," our weekly legislative news and analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the legislative session. MTPR's Sally Mauk is joined by Lee Newspapers reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.

Tune in to "Capitol Talk" on your radio every Friday during the session at 6:35 p.m. and again on Sunday at 11:00 a.m.
 

Lawmakers Begin Debate On Infrastructure Bills

Mar 12, 2015
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

One of the biggest disagreements at the state capitol this year is how Montana should fund roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Governor Steve Bullock’s “Build Montana” proposal is one big bill that would fund lots of different projects. It would pull funding from several different sources, including the state coal tax trust fund. Legislative Legal Services says, that means his bill would need to win votes from 75% of lawmakers. 

The House Appropriations Committee has begun examining funding for the various infrastructure projects proposed this legislative session.

Medicaid Expansion Debate Begins At The Montana Legislature

Mar 6, 2015
Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen (R)
Montana Legislature

Before the hearing on Gov. Bullock's Medicaid expansion bill began, the Republican majority took another jab at the bill.

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