Montana Public Radio

Llew Jones

Now that both the full House and Senate have had their a chance to work on the state’s main budget bill, attention is returning to what legislative leaders have said is the priority this session—infrastructure.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

The Montana Senate approved a state budget today that’s about $19 million above the budget passed by the House of Representatives.

The state budget moved out of the Senate in a brief morning vote 29-20.

Office of the governor, budget and program planning.
William Marcus

Governor Steve Bullock's office warned lawmakers Tuesday that they’re risking a special legislative session and budget cuts if they rely too much on new, more optimistic state revenue projections to fund the state budget.

The amount of money a campus in the Montana University System receives from the state for a full-time resident student varies, sometimes widely.

The high is about $11,000 for a student at MSU-Northern to a low of $6,500 at Great Falls College MSU, according to data gathered by the Legislative Fiscal Division.


Familiar Infrastructure Ideas Return to 2017 Session

Jan 17, 2017

There was a bit of déjà vu surrounding a bill that seeks to use coal tax money to pay for crumbling public works and state buildings.

“I think the bill is familiar to many of us,” said Dan Villa, Governor Steve Bullock’s budget director.

Montana’s cash cushion has grown smaller since the 2015 Legislative session largely because of declining revenue from natural resource extraction and lower tax collections.

That’s why lawmakers are summoning state agencies to see if they would make spending cuts in their current budgets to help Montana’s ailing “checkbook.”


Sen. Llew Jones (R) - SD9
Montana Legislature

At a conference for farmers in Great Falls today, state lawmakers gave a preview of the budget fight to come in the upcoming legislative session.

Conrad Republican Llew Jones chairs Montana's Senate Finance Committee. He says he expects budget cuts to be the big issue during the 2017 legislative session:

Praying with a rosary
(PD)

This week, three parents from a Christian school in Kalispell filed a suit over the state’s exclusion of religious schools in a program to provide scholarships for public and private education.

Kendra Espinoza is one of the plaintiffs in the case. She says scholarships are the only reason why she can afford to send her kids to the private religious school she chooses.

Sen. Llew Jones (R) - SD9
Montana Legislature

The State Department of revenue heard over an hour of testimony today over its controversial proposed new rule. It says a new tax credit scholarship program cannot be used to benefit religious-affiliated schools. 

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s Department of Revenue caused a furor when it said people who donate to private religious schools don’t qualify for new tax credits created by this year’s legislature. Representative Mary Anne Dunwell, a Helena Democrat, agrees:

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