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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Automatic Budget Cuts Could Pull Millions From Montana Firefighting Fund

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service
Gov. Steve Bullock.

An automatic state budget cut could pull tens of millions of dollars out of the state firefighting fund as early as Tuesday.

During the legislative session earlier this year state lawmakers approved a bill that triggers budget cuts based on how much revenue is coming in.

Those revenues are far behind what Governor Steve Bullock budgeted for. And that means cuts to numerous state agencies and institutions, including the fire fighting fund.

Monday, Governor Bullock said the state will be able to find the money it needs to pay any fire expenses.

"The fire fund is over – it’s north of $60 million, but certainly the availability of money in that isn’t causing me any concern," Bullock said.

The budget cut could pull about half of that $60 million to stabilize the state budget. On Sunday Bullock declared a state of emergency, which allows him to access an additional $16 million emergency fund if necessary.

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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