Republican lawmakers took to the Capitol steps Tuesday to discuss the state’s revenue outlook and criticize Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s administration for the handling of the state budget.
“Given the revenue pictures we are looking at today, we will be underwater in the next two fiscal years.”
That’s Fred Thomas, Republican State Senator and Chairman of the State Revenue and Transportation Committee.
The state’s 2016 fiscal year came to a close a few weeks ago. Thomas says if the state of Montana continues to spend at current levels there will be deficit in the next two years.
Thomas says if there wasn’t more than $300 million in reserve funds the state would be deficit spending.
"Because we are taking in less revenue in fiscal 2016 than we are spending in fiscal 2016. So when you carry that forward, if you didn’t have the cushion, then you are spending deficit today. That is likely to be the case in the fiscal year we are in now because when we left the session in April of 2015 the next fiscal year was nip and tuck as far as revenue and expenditures."
Montana’s revenues did not meet their state projection for fiscal year 2016.
Although income tax was up from last year, it was short of its projection by about $45 million. Corporation tax was about $61 million short of projections and oil and natural gas taxes were about $20 million short.
Those numbers come from the Montana Legislative Financial Division.
Republican party Chairman and State Representative Jeff Essmann stood by Thomas at the Capitol Tuesday and blamed Democrats for the decline in the natural resource economy.