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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montana lawmakers expect $7.5 billion in revenue over the next two years

Montana Capitol bulding in Helena, MT.
Shaylee Rager
/
UM Legislative News Service
Montana Capitol bulding in Helena, MT.

Montana lawmakers have taken an initial step in building the state’s budget for the next biennium.

Before each session, lawmakers adopt an official estimate of how much money the government is expected to bring in the general fund over the next two years. The Revenue Interim Committee unanimously agreed on Wednesday that the figure is about $7.5 billion. When lawmakers arrive in Helena in January, they’ll debate how to spend it.

Amy Carlson is director of the Legislative Fiscal Division, which advises lawmakers on state finances. She briefed lawmakers on the state’s strong revenue growth in recent years.

“We’ve viewed a lot of growth of inflation, population changes, wages changes and personal income changes, all relatively larger growth than we had seen recently.”

Analysts expect state revenue won't keep pace with the recent surge in growth, but will still tick upward in the coming years. The governor’s office projects revenues to come in marginally higher than the forecast adopted by lawmakers.

The state’s financial experts caution that there’s some volatility in their estimates because of changing inflation rates. Lawmakers can amend the revenue estimate as more information becomes available.

Lawmakers will also be working with a nearly $2 billion surplus from the previous biennium’s budget.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu.