Montana University System

Air ambulance bills often have a price tag in the five figure range. Patients' shock over the cost of emergency medical transport has recently turned into complaints filed to the auditor’s office.
Flickr user arbyreed (CC-BY-NC-2)

Air ambulance and health insurance companies took turns blaming each other Thursday for costly but lifesaving air ambulance flights in Montana. The accusations flew during a legislative committee hearing.

Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Legislative audits released today of the Montana University System came up clean and without criticism. After reviewing data for the fiscal year ending in June 2015, auditors saw no need for adjustments in how the universities handle their cash flow.

Montana University officials are condemning accusations of unfair hiring practices at the University of Montana.
Josh Burnham

Montana University officials are condemning accusations of unfair hiring practices at the University of Montana. The charge is leveled by a group of community members and UM faculty.

Montana Lawmakers Hear State Employee Pay Plan

Mar 16, 2015
Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

A standing room only crowd packed into the hearing room for the state employee pay plan. Members of the House Appropriations Committee are considering whether to implement the pay plan agreement reached between the Bullock administration and the various public employee unions.

Sheila Hogan heads the Department of Administration. She was one of several agency administrators who spoke in favor of the pay plan.

News Roundup: Week Five At The Montana Legislature

Feb 8, 2015
Montana capitol
William Marcus

Juneau calls for early education, tax cuts pass, lawmakers consider drones on public lands and Fox supports bill to combat human trafficking.

In her address to a joint session of the Montana Legislature last week, Superintendent Denise Juneau praised Montana’s schools and called for more investment in them.

“We have a lot to be proud of in this state,” she said.

Juneau listed accomplishments like the highest graduation rates in the state’s history and growth in organizations like the Future Farmers of America.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk", tax cut bills are getting a lot of attention at the Montana Legislature this session. One legislator, Nicholas Schwaderer of Superior, introduced a bill that would put income tax cuts up to a vote via referendum. The bill drew bipartisan opposition during its hearing in the House. Schwaderer defended the bill saying, "taxation of income is theft."

Tax cuts could face vetoes from Gov. Bullock, who is intent on keeping at least a $300 million surplus.

Bill Allowing Guns On Campus Advances In Montana Senate

Feb 5, 2015

Today, the Montana Senate passed a bill 26-23 that would make it legal for students to carry guns on college campuses.

The debate during yesterday's second reading centered on second amendment rights and the safety guns could provide for women on campus. These points were heavily debated, first by Senator Kristin Hansen of Havre.

“I don’t think there are a ton of young women who want to carry a handgun ... But I do think there are some and they are qualified to do so.”

Senator Duane Ankney of Colstrip was one Republican to vote against it.

News Roundup, Week 4 At The Montana Legislature

Feb 2, 2015
William Marcus

In the middle of the fourth week of the 64th Montana Legislature, Gov. Steve Bullock took the rostrum in the House of Representatives with a big smile.

“The state of our state is strong,” Bullock said, beginning his State of the State address.

Bullock touted his fiscal discipline and pushed his big legislative priorities, getting multiple standing ovations from Democrats and occasional claps from a few Republicans.

MUS Officials Say They're Meeting Benchmarks Set By 2013 Legislature

Jan 30, 2015
UM's Vice President for Integrated Communications, Peggy Kuhr, says 13,044 students are attending UM this fall semester, a 6 and one half percent drop from last fall.
Josh Burnham

Montana University System officials told lawmakers they are meeting the benchmarks the 2013 Montana Legislature set toward increasing student retention and graduation.

Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says performance based funding is driving change at Montana’s colleges and universities.

"You know what it’s done is its creating focus for us," said Christian. "And that’s the good thing. We’re talking about things that will affect student success. That’s the bottom line of what it’s creating."

Republicans Face Off With Governor Over Infrastructure Spending

Jan 29, 2015
William Marcus

Despite a warning from the Governor to keep his Build Montana infrastructure bill intact, lawmakers are moving to break House Bill 5 into at least 5 bills. The move sets up a face-off with the Bullock Administration.

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