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GOP Budget Plan Hopes To 'Corral' Governor

Nov 13, 2017
Rep. Rob Cook
Montana Legislature

Shelby prison deal could be Bullock’s “one exit”

As state lawmakers lay the groundwork for a special legislative session to tackle Montana’s $227 budget shortfall, the proposed GOP deal for how to plug the gap is coming into focus.

At the same time, two independent sources have confirmed to the Montana Free Press that Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, in “in talks” with top executives of CoreCivic, the owners of a private prison in Shelby that is at the center of the 2017 special session’s most contentious proposal. CoreCivic is offering to return $30 million in state money set aside for the eventual purchase of the 664-bed prison in exchange for a 10-year renewal on its contract to operate the facility. That contract is up in 2019.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana lawmakers returned to Helena Monday to begin a special legislative session aimed at addressing the state's $227 million budget deficit. The governor has proposed filling the budget gap with a combination of cuts to state agencies and tax increases. But Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, have different plans.

School bus.
(PD)

As part of Montana's special legislative session, Governor Bullock is asking public schools to forego tens of millions of dollars in the coming years in state transportation block grants.

Public schools would share about 6 percent of the burden to fill the state’s $227 million dollar budget shortfall under the proposed Senate Bill 2. It would require school districts in Montana to start tapping into their reserve funds to pay for transportation costs, like buses, for students.

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

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.

Great Falls State Senator Ed Buttrey.
Corin Cates-Carney

A proposal to temporarily charge a fee for state management of Montana's workers' compensation fund drew strong opposition as lawmakers began a special session to address a $227 million budget shortfall.

The 3 percent management fee on Montana State Fund assets above $1 billion would raise an estimated $30 million.

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