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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

State Revenue Forecast Comes In Below Previous Predictions (CC-BY-2.0)

A new state economic forecast published Wednesday says Montana isn’t projected to bring in as much money as lawmakers initially expected at the beginning of the legislative session.

The three-year forecast is the latest monthly update lawmakers received as they work to create and pass a state budget bill for the next two years. That work is nearing its end, with less than 10 days left in the 2019 legislative session.

Wednesday’s updated forecast says state revenues are expected to come in about $45 million below what lawmakers first planned for when they arrived in Helena. That dip is small enough that it’s unlikely to have a big impact on this year’s budget bill.

"So, [2019] is up; long-term down a bit," says Rep. Nancy Ballance, a Republican from Hamilton.

Ballance is chair of the House Appropriations Committee. She says lawmakers may update their revenue estimate based on the new forecast and they are building the budget knowing revenues might dip a little.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division says the $45 million is statistically a very small difference compared to lawmakers previous expectations relative to entire state revenues — about half of one percent. The total state revenue projection covers more than $7.5 billion.

Among LFD’s assumptions in the new lower state revenue estimate are weaker stock prices, slowing global growth, effects of recent tariffs, lower oil prices, and a dampened outlook for Montana wage growth.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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