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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Budget Director: House Budget Inadequate

Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) HD87
Montana Legislature

The state budget director criticized the work of the House on the state's budget for the coming biennium.

The comments came as the Senate Finance and Claims Committee started its review this morning.

State Budget Director Dan Villa didn't pull any punches in describing the work of the House on the budget.

"Mr. Chairman a lot of work lies on the heads of the Senate. The House failed," Villa said. "The House sent you a budget where the line we heard over and over is 'well, we'll fix it in the Senate.' So here we are in the Senate the executive and the upper chamber working to avoid a failed session."

Villa went on to say the budget doesn't adequate fund a number of essential services, including Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, the Corrections system and public defenders.

Representative Nancy Ballance chairs the House Appropriations Committee. Her comment was brief as she opened the hearing on the state budget.

"House Bill 2 as it now sits represents a 5.5 percent  increase over the 2015 biennium. That is all funds," Ballance said.

She says her subcommittee chairs will discuss the details of each section of the budget.

According to the schedule, the Senate Finance and Claims Committee will hold hearings on each budget section today and tomorrow and take executive action on Wednesday and Thursday.

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