Steve Bullock

Wildland Firefighters working on fire line on the West Fork Fish Creek Fire in 2015.

State lawmakers Monday took up a proposal by Governor Steve Bullock to increases fees on some property owners to fund fire protection in the state. It's part of the governor's package of legislation aimed at patching the $227 million hole in the state budget.

House Bill 4 proposes freeing up $13 million in the state's general fund by asking property tax payers to take on more of the cost for state firefighting preparedness. This bill would ask property owners in eastern Montana to pay fees that people in western parts of the state already pay.

Montana House of Representatives.

Monday, Governor Steve Bullock called lawmakers back to Helena for a special legislative session. The state is facing a $200 million budget shortfall. The governor has proposed filling the budget gap with a combination of cuts to state agencies and tax increases. Veteran statehouse reporter Chuck Johnson joins MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney with insight on what to expect in the special legislative session.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

Governor Steve Bullock Monday called for a special legislative session to convene later this month to balance the state's budget. Here's Bullock at a press conference Monday afternoon:

"I’m calling the Legislature back to Helena for a special session to begin with hearings convening next Monday, November 13, and for the full body to convene Tuesday the 14th at noon."

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

Republican leaders say they have not yet struck a deal with Governor Steve Bullock on how to solve the state's current budget crisis. While talks between the conservative legislative majority and the executive have informally created a starting point for a potential special legislative session, a complete solution has still not been reached.

Annual Change In State Personal Income Adjusted For Inflation 2007-2016
Screen shot of Pew Charitable Trust Research

Montana is facing a state budget crisis. The state is projected to have about $200 million less than it needs to fund everything in the budget that lawmakers and the governor agreed to this year. That much is clear, but there's a lot of disagreement about why the $200 million hole is there, and what to do about it.

The budget that state lawmakers passed, and that Governor Steve Bullock signed, was based on forecasts that projected Montana's economy would generate a lot more tax revenue than it actually did. That budget is now falling apart.

But the Bullock administration continues to tout the strength of Montana's economy