Numbers in a new state revenue report mean Montana could likely restore some of the cuts made during last year’s budget crisis. At least that’s how one prominent Republican state lawmaker is interpreting them.
Back in November, Governor Steve Bullock called a special legislative session because the projections from the state’s budgeting office showed Montana facing a revenue shortfall of $227 million.
But about six months later, the latest revenue estimate from legislative analysts released Monday says the state’s revenue shortfall is only about $7 million below expectations for this fiscal year.
And that improvement could be enough to trigger a law passed during the special session that stated if revenues were good enough at the end of this fiscal year the state could add some money back into the upcoming year’s budget.
That’s according to Llew Jones, Republican chair of the state Senate Finance Committee. Jones says state revenue is on track to backfill up to $45 million in budget cuts put into law during November special legislative session.
“So at this point it looks like the likelihood of the unwind or the restore, whichever way we wish to call, it is substantial," Jones said. "Some things could happen between now and the end of the month and we don’t really know the numbers until the prove-ups in July, but it’s very positive looking today.”
This funding restoration could impact 21 agencies and branches in the state government that took up to a 10 percent budget hit amid last year’s revenue shortfall.
Governor Steve Bullock’s Budget Director Dan Villa says interventions made during the special session in November are a big reason the state is now seeing revenues coming in where they need to be.
The Governor's office also says some of the revenue in the legislative report may be overstated due to the timing of tax payments.