The latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news.
Montana Begins Feeling Impacts Of State Budget Cuts
Montana is starting to feel the impact of budget cuts that lawmakers approved as a way to deal with the state's $227 million deficit. Here's a roundup of some of our reporting on the state budget cuts so far.
- Property taxes have risen to cover cuts in state transportation funds for schools. Schools across the state rely on state block grants to varying degrees to fund a broad array of education needs. Districts that lean more heavily on it will tend to see their property taxes rise more than districts that don’t.
- Western Montana Mental Health Center has laid-off around 50 case managers due to expected cuts in reimbursement rates for Medicaid providers.
- Western Montana Mental Health Center CEO Jodi Daly says, "We frankly haven't heard yet from the department as it relates to the governor's proposed cuts post special session. That concerns me because, am I looking at a second wave of cuts? We're not sure when the second shoe is going to drop, frankly."
- Montana FWP’s regional parks operations budget — that’s money earmarked for daily maintenance of latrines, plowing and road upkeep — was cut by 20 percent following the state’s budget crisis. That means some state park roads that are normally plowed in winter will only be accessible by foot this season.
- Funding for The Flathead Basin Commission remains in limbo due to the budget situation. The commission was supposed to oversee a new pilot program next summer that would shore up protections against invasive zebra and quagga mussels, invasive species that have caused millions of dollars of damage in infested states and changed lake ecosystems in ways we still don’t really understand.
- Montana Democrats say the GOP tax plan could worsen Montana’s budget woes. At a town hall meeting in Bozeman Tuesday, State representative Jim Hamilton said he estimates that the GOP tax plan will mean "roughly another $60 or $70 million dollars of lost revenue to the state per year.”
- Jim Hamilton, a state rep. from Bozeman says the loss in funding will affect local school districts, mental health and disability services in Gallatin County. "In just four phone calls, which took me less than fifteen minutes I came up to a million dollars worth of cuts to agencies in Bozeman," he says. "So it’s a broad problem, it exists here, and I think we needed to make that clear to you.”