MTPR

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Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A new state revenue update says Montana’s rainy day and firefighting funds are looking flush as more money is coming in than projected. But a report from legislative researchers indicates the recent cashflow spike could be a temporary blip.

From left to right, Rep. Greg Gianforte, Sen. Al Olszewski and Attorney General Tim Fox.
Photo credit L- R, Eric Whitney, Corin Cates-Carney and Montana DOJ

Montana now has three Republicans campaigning for governor, with one candidate dropping out of the race to run for the U.S. House. Party leaders met in Helena this weekend. Veteran journalists Chuck Johnson and Ed Kemmick offer their analysis with Montana Free Press Editor John Adams.

Local Option Tax Bills Continue To Die In Committee

Mar 28, 2019

HELENA -- The third bill in the Montana Legislature that would provide a local option sales tax was tabled with a 12-6 vote in the House Taxation Committee Thursday.

House Bill 740 would have allowed local governments to adopt a voter-approved sales tax of up to 4 percent. No more than 40 percent of the tax revenue would go to property tax relief.

Tonight on Capitol Talk: State lawmakers are buckling-down on a number of issues, including increased oversight of non-profit schools for troubled teens; what infrastructure projects to support or reject; what to cut or support in the health department; and whether ratepayers should bear the burden of keeping Colstrip's coal plant going.

Learn more now on Capitol Talk.

Tonight on Capitol Talk: The state health department faces permanent job cuts; A sales tax proposal reappears at the Capitol; Sexual harassment allegations among lawmakers lead to a new anti-harassment policy; And with time running short, Gov. Bullock remains coy about his 2020 election plans.

Montana Capitol building.
Nick Mott / MTPR

Gov. Steve Bullock’s request for more than $20 million for preschool funding is not included in the legislature’s initial draft of public education funding. 

The Legislative Subcommittee on Education finished its work Tuesday outlining money for public schools for the next two years.

Taxes To Again Dominate Budget Talks At The Montana Legislature

Jan 17, 2019
Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton, sits in the House of Representatives on Jan. 10, 2019. Ballance is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Shaylee Rager / UM Legislative News Service

HELENA — Taxes are shaping up to be one of the big debates of the 2019 Montana Legislature.

The budget estimates from the governor’s office and the Legislative Fiscal Division are roughly the same -- about $10 billion over two years to fund a variety of state agencies and programs. The budget includes everything from education to the state’s share of Medicaid expansion.

Members of the Montana House of Representatives are sworn in to the 2019 legislative session Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.
Eliza Wiley / Montana Free Press

Editor’s note: This story has been updated following Monday’s vote.

HELENA — Hours before Montana lawmakers gaveled in the 2019 legislative session, Republicans appeared to have struck a deal on House rules.

Gavel.
(PD)

The Montana Supreme Court Wednesday struck down a 2015 state law allowing tax credits for donations to private religious schools.

The court’s 5-2 ruling voids the dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $150, which passed, largely along party lines, out of the 2015 Montana Legislature.

Hearing room at the Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

There is a fight brewing in the Montana Legislature over how much power House leadership should have to keep bills they don’t like from going forward. It’s revealing lines between conservative and moderate factions in the Republican caucus; and how it plays out could determine the way high-profile policy is made.

“There’s a lot at stake in this game,” says Derek Skees, a Republican party whip in the House.

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