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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Gov Bullock, Lawmakers Start Work New State Budget

Montana State Capitol.
William Marcus
/
Montana Public Radio
Montana State Capitol.

Both the Montana Governor’s Office and a group of independent legislative researchers have come up with estimates of how much money will be available for state budgeting over the next two years.

The different projections for how much lawmakers can assume the state will earn from taxes and other revenues is separated by about two tenths of a percent. That amounts to about $10 million. That’s a relatively small amount in the context of the more than $5 billion in revenues that both estimates say the state will bring in in the next two years.

How close the two revenue forecasts are is important, because when there’s a big gap, it can lead to political finger-pointing among lawmakers and the governor if revenues don’t come in as expected.

That happened last year when Governor Steve Bullock called a special legislative session  because of the declining revenues calculated by his office, while some lawmakers, looking at the other forecast, saw no need for a special session.

On Monday, state lawmakers will reference both budget estimates when they meet to talk over how much money they state is earning. The estimates are the starting point for starting to make decisions on spending during the upcoming legislative session that starts January 7.

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