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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Gov. Bullock: State Economy Can Weather Dropping Oil Prices

Gov. Steve Bullock. File Photo
Christopher B. Allen

As the price of oil continues to fall, Governor Steve Bullock says he’s not worried about the impact on Montana’s budget from declining oil tax revenue.
"I don’t go into the next legislative session saying revenues will live or die on what happens with oil prices."
Bullock says oil revenues only represent about $100 million worth of Montana’s $2.5 billion general fund budget.
"Now, that’s not to say that the oil and gas boom is not significant, because it’s also additional employment."
The Governor says the state’s economy is diverse and healthy enough that it can weather the drop in oil prices. And, he says, the fact that the average price of regular gasoline nationwide has dropped another 25 cents a gallon in the past two weeks, to $2.47 can be seen as good news for consumers and retailers.

Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that the average price of regular gasoline is the lowest it's been in more than five years, and she expects prices will likely keep falling.
"I know that I and other families will probably have a little bit more money to spend in our main-streets in town. So we have to look at the overall balance, it does serve as a reminder that again, we do need to make sure that we  have a  rainy-day fund out there in case anything happens. But by the same token I think that we'll see some counter effects of dollars being spent elsewhere."
Governor Bullock is proposing a $300 million dollar "rainy-day" fund in the budget he’s sending to state legislators in January, based on a projected six to seven percent growth in state revenue in the next two fiscal years.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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