Gov. Bullock Vetoes 'Feed Bill' Over Legislative Spending Increase

Feb 2, 2017

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is using his veto power to recommend that the state Legislature reduce the amount of money it approved for itself to operate this session.

Bullock used what's called an amendatory veto Thursday to recommend reducing a nearly 15 percent increase in the so-called "feed bill" (HB-1) to 1.46 percent. That is the same level of growth as Bullock's overall two-year budget proposal.

"At the same time that we’re tightening the belt of the rest of government, the legislative branch sent me a bill to increase the spending of their branch of government by 14 percent. I’m asking them in this amendatory veto, to rethink this unwise choice," Bullock said.

Lawmakers can accept or reject the recommendation before returning the bill to Bullock. The feed bill calls for $11.5 million for the House, Senate and Legislative Services Division to operate the 2017 session and to prepare for the 2019 session.

Republicans who control the House and Senate said they had no warning Bullock's veto was coming, and that having the bill in limbo could create a cash flow problem for them just a month into the 90-day legislative session. House Majority Leader Ron Ehli, of Hamilton:

"From a leadership standpoint, we’re very disappointed for a couple reasons," Ehli said. "We’re disappointed because this almost looks like a blindside, number one. Number two, we’re disappointed because we feel like it’s an effort from the executive branch to reduce the power of the legislature."

Senate Republicans say they will not accept the governor's recommended cuts. Bullock declined to say whether he would veto the bill if it is returned to him unchanged.