MTPR

Nancy Ballance

'Capitol Talk': Legislature Wraps-Up; Campaign Season Heats Up

Apr 26, 2019

Tonight on Capitol Talk: Big bills that passed, and ones that didn't; the split in the Republican party — and its consequences; Gov. Bullock's pending big announcement; and Attorney General Tim Fox's fondness for chicken.

Montana remains among only a few states in the country without publicly funded pre-K.
iStock


A Montana legislative committee rejected efforts to include funding for preschool in the state budget over the next two years. That, and another vote, effectively ended the state's preschool pilot program that lawmakers passed in 2017.

Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

A new state economic forecast published Wednesday says Montana isn’t projected to bring in as much money as lawmakers initially expected at the beginning of the legislative session.

The three-year forecast is the latest monthly update lawmakers received as they work to create and pass a state budget bill for the next two years. That work is nearing its end, with less than 10 days left in the 2019 legislative session.

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: The state's utility regulators endorse a bill that appears to weaken the their own regulatory oversight. The cost of Medicaid expansion — and a new revenue estimate — complicate the state budget outlook. The president of the Senate wants to be the top election official. And the mayor of Helena wants to run for governor or Congress, but he's not ready to say if he'll run as a Democrat or Republican.

Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A $10.3 billion state budget cleared an initial vote in the Montana House of Representatives this afternoon, without any support from Democrats.

When state lawmakers walked into the legislative session earlier this year they were in the unusual situation of having watched the last state budget, passed in 2017, collapse.

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.

Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) - Hamilton, at the Legislature. Feb. 22, 2019.
Shaylee Ragar / UM Legislative News Service

Rep. Nancy Ballance, a Republican from Hamilton, has served as a chair of the House Appropriations Committee in Montana’s Legislature since 2015. The committee is tasked with building a balanced budget for the state, which is the only legal requirement of the lawmaking body. Ballance is a former insurance executive, and has dug deep into Montana’s finances.

UM Legislative News Reporter Shaylee Ragar spoke with Ballance last week about the state’s revenue projections, the future of Montana’s economy and about her views of Medicaid expansion, which again is a major debate this session.

Montana Capitol building.
Nick Mott / MTPR

A new plan to cap state government debt when paying for public works projects is on a fast track in the state Legislature. It’s a potential breakthrough in the Legislature’s long fight over borrowing money to pay for large scale infrastructure.

The so-called Infrastructure Development and Economic Accountability Act passed out of House Appropriations unanimously, and without debate, hours after it receiving its first hearing Thursday.

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