MTPR

state budget

A satellite photo showing the Lodgepole complex fires in Montana.
NASA

On Sunday, Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency in Montana because of wildfires. MTPR's Eric Whitney spoke to him Monday afternoon about what that means on the ground.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

An automatic state budget cut could pull tens of millions of dollars out of the state firefighting fund as early as Tuesday.

During the legislative session earlier this year state lawmakers approved a bill that triggers budget cuts based on how much revenue is coming in.

Elsie Arntzen, Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction,  says the coming cuts could make work very challenging at schools moving forward.
PD

Montana’s K-through-12 schools could face millions of dollars in cuts next month if state revenues don’t improve. The state Office of Public Instruction warned education groups and teachers’ unions about the possible hit to the agency’s budget during a meeting Thursday afternoon.

The big state budget bill landed on Governor Steve Bullock’s desk Monday, one of the final acts of the 2017 legislative session, which was gaveled to a close Friday.

MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney joins us for a look at what Montana lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish since convening in January.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

The 2017 legislative session came to a chaotic end this morning. Democrats and Republicans fought until the final hour over funding long-term public works projects.

When the final gavel struck, Republicans leaders said they’re proud of their party’s unity and keeping government growth in check. Democrats also talked up their wins, but expressed frustration in being unable to accomplish their major goals.

The "Capitol Talk" crew discusses what did and didn't make it through the legislative session, with a focus on infrastructure and the state budget. On the House race, they discuss whether Quist's nudist colony gigs will impact the race, and break down the latest attack ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund. They also look at the recent Emerson poll showing Gianforte with a double digit lead. Listen now on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana senators have started the clock on the final day of the legislative session, forcing a 24-hour limit on the political chess match over funding long-term construction projects in the state like water treatment plants, a state veterans home, and schools.

"We’re going to turn the hourglass over and say you got one more day. Let’s get it done,” said Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso.

Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

At the end of a legislative session defined by the state having less money than initially projected, lawmakers Wednesday negotiated a new budgeting system designed to protect the state against future revenue shortfalls. 

With state revenues down from slumping markets for oil, gas, coal and agricultural products, lawmakers spent most this session arguing over spending priorities in the state budget.

On This episode of "Capitol Talk," Sally, Chuck and Rob discuss the budget, tax and infrastructure questions awaiting resolution during the final week of the Legislative session. They’ll review the latest ads in the U.S. House Race, and question whether the national attention in that race will help or hurt the candidates.

Legislature Passes $10.3 Billion Two-year State Budget

Apr 21, 2017
Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

HELENA -- It’s been a long and arduous journey, but the $10.3 billion Montana state budget is now on it’s way to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s desk. Friday, the Republican-majority House of Representatives passed Senate amendments to the budget 58-41.

Contentious Budget Bill One Vote From Passage At Montana Legislature

Apr 20, 2017
Rep. Nancy Ballance is the primary sponsor of the budget legislation.
Mike Albans

The state’s main budget bill is one vote away from going to the governor’s desk. Majorities in both the House and Senate have now agreed on it and some of its companion spending bills.

For the first time in recent memory, the state's main budget bill won't go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to hammer out any more deals. 

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.

Can the governor's amendatory veto bring back the mail ballot option for the special election? We parse Quist's new TV ads and his decision not to participate in a public broadcasting statewide debate. We also discuss what Gianforte gains or loses by keeping a low profile. Then we look at how Tester's Gorsuch vote might affect his re-election chances next year. Finally, we remember the well-respected former Helena legislator Mignon Waterman who died this week.

Lawmakers voted Thursday to bank on a projection that state revenue will increase substantially in the next 3 years to help balance the state budget. Democrats called that reckless.

Butte Democrat Works To Steer Infrastructure Bills Through The Legislature

Apr 6, 2017
Rep. Jim Keane, D - HD73
Montana Legislature

Representative Jim Keane often refers to his infrastructure bills as "vehicles." The Butte Democrat continues to steer those bills through the process. This time to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee.

Now that both the full House and Senate have had their a chance to work on the state’s main budget bill, attention is returning to what legislative leaders have said is the priority this session—infrastructure.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

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.

Budget Bill Passes State Senate
Corin Cates-Carney

MTPR's Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney recounts Monday's day-long debate over the state budget bill in the Senate.

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.

The University of Montana.
Josh Burnham

University of Montana student Hunter Losing’s message to lawmakers was simple- 

“We cannot balance the budget on the backs of students. We need to tell them we need courage, not cuts,” he said.

State revenue estimates have grown, but lawmakers are taking a cautious approach. Will the Legislature pass an infrastructure bill this session? A mail-voting hearing turns heated. And Sally and Chuck remember Bob Ream, on this episode of 'Capitol Talk.'

"Herd Bull," a bronze bison skull sculpture by artist Benji Daniels on display in front of the Montana Historical Society in Helena, MT.
Eric Whitney

Montana's Historical Society has been asking state lawmakers for help to build a new building for years. In the last legislative session it narrowly missed getting the okay to issue bonds for construction. Now, a Republican lawmaker is proposing it sell off parts of its collection to pay for a new museum.

As state lawmakers debate larger budget and infrastructure bills, Billings Representative Dennis Lenz is proposing letting the Historical Society sell art and other objects to generate up to $50 million for construction:

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana could see as much as $106 million in additional revenue come into the state than was previously unexpected. But lawmakers are approaching this news with some caution as they create the state’s budget.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division is projecting the additional revenue to flow into state coffers over the next three years, as the state recovers from a dip in earnings after a decline created, in part, by lower sales of coal, oil, and gas. 

March LFD General Fund Revenue Update Compared to HJ 2.
Legislative Fiscal Division

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.

Sally Mauk, Chuck Johnson and Rob Saldin review the legislature's busy week as the state budget heads out of the House and on to the Senate. They also discuss how the debate over healthcare and the Trump administration's proposed federal budget is affecting Montana's upcoming special election in May.

Contentious Budget Bill Moves To State Senate

Mar 17, 2017
Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

The budget bill that doles out state money to agencies passed out of the House of Representatives today on a 58-to-40 vote. House Bill 2, made up of more than $10 billion to be spent over two years, has been the most contentious bill in the legislative session thus far.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

All day Thursday in the House Chambers at the state capitol, Democrats rose to their feet asking for more funding in the state budget shaped by the Republican majority. All of those proposals were rejected before the budget passed second reading along party lines.

Montana Lawmakers Cut Budget For Long-Term Senior And Disabled Care

Mar 16, 2017
Montana Lawmakers Cut Budget For Long-Term Senior And Disabled Care
(PD)

One of the amendments to the state budget Montana lawmakers shot down today would have given more funding to a program that helps pay for long-term care for low-income seniors and disabled Montanans.

Montana House of Representatives.
MTPR

The state's biennial budget will get its first debate on the House floor Thursday, the next round of legislative struggle over the state's lighter-than-hoped-for pocket book, which came up short of initial projections largely because of declines in state revenue from sales of coal, oil and gas.

After a first round of spending cuts and denials of spending increases, late last week a Republican controlled committee passed a budget that Governor Steve Bullock is calling "unacceptable."

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.

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