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Lawmakers At Odds Over Preliminary State Health Department Budget

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

Montana lawmakers have set the first rough outline for state health department spending at about a billion dollars less than the agency’s current budget. A party line vote Friday set the initial base spending for budget negotiations. 

Republican Rep. Matt Regier is chair of the house appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Department of Public Health and Human Services

“This is just a starting point of where you want to look at the past or how you’re going to build your budget,” Regier said. 

Regier proposed adopting the health department’s 2019 level of spending as a jumping off point for budget negotiations

Democrats on the committee pushed back on the figure arguing that there’s no guarantee that funding will be restored to the health and human services agency.

“I know we will be building things back in, but we’re going to spend a lot of time trying to get services restored or funding restored to where it has been, ” Sen. Mary McNally, a Billings Democrat, said. 

The lower starting point figure does not square with Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte’s proposed biennial budget released Thursday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated to include the latest version of this story.

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