MTPR

Montana Legislature

William Marcus

Governor Steve Bullock’s nearly $10 billion budget proposal could mean Montanans will end up paying a little more for wine and cigarettes. Medical marijuana, too.

Sen. Llew Jones (R) SD9
Montana Legislature

At a conference for farmers in Great Falls today, state lawmakers gave a preview of the budget fight to come in the upcoming legislative session.

Conrad Republican Llew Jones chairs Montana's Senate Finance Committee. He says he expects budget cuts to be the big issue during the 2017 legislative session:

More than 60,000 Montanans now have health insurance because of the HELP Act, the Medicaid expansion program narrowly passed by state lawmakers in 2015. The oversight committee in charge of reviewing that program met in Helena on Tuesday to check in on the Medicaid expansion. 

John Goodnow, chair of the oversight committee, says because of the HELP Act, a lot of uninsured Montanans now have coverage: 

Montana Capitol dome.
William Marcus

Montana’s Medicaid expansion program got a progress report today from an oversight committee of lawmakers and health care professionals. While the state’s uninsured rate continues to drop, the job services aspect of the HELP Act isn’t doing as well as supporters had hoped.

Job Service officies statewide, like this one in Kalispell, are offering special help to new Medicaid recipients
Eric Whitney

Medicaid expansion barely passed Montana's Legislature last year. One of the reasons it was able to get enough Republican votes is because it included a component to encourage Medicaid recipients to get jobs, or better-paying jobs, so they could get off of Medicaid and buy their own health insurance.

Tuesday afternoon, a legislative oversight committee is taking a look at how that work component is going.

Sen. Fred Thomas (R) SD-44 is chairman of the Revenue and Transportation Committee.
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.

State Budget Top Priority For Montana Lawmakers Going Into 2017 Session

Nov 14, 2016
Montana lawmakers break for lunch after selecting their 2017 leadership at the Capitol in Helena, Nov 14, 2016.
Corin Cates-Carney

The state budget is the top priority for lawmakers and the governor ahead of the 2017 legislative session that convenes January 2. Yellowstone Public Radio’s Jackie Yamanaka and MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney talked to the newly elected legislative leaders and the governor about their priorities going into the 2017 session.

Jonathan Windy Boy (D) SD16.
Courtesy Montana Legislature

A lot of Montana’s election races were closely fought this year, but the size of the Indian Caucus in the state legislature was never really in doubt.

Montanans regularly elect the most Native Americans to the state legislature in the country.

Governor Bullock watching election returns with his family in Helena.
Mike Albans

It took until around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning to learn incumbent Democrat Steve Bullock won reelection over Republican Greg Gianforte.

The candidates went to bed on election night with the results too close to call. At one point overnight, Gianforte had a slight lead. But when the race was called, Bullock won the seat by about 12,000 votes. Some votes were still being counted as of Wednesday afternoon.

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