Montana Public Radio

Romney Hall

A bill allowing the state of Montana to borrow $80 million for some big ticket construction projects made it out a Senate committee Friday. It now has to pass out of the full Senate in the coming days or risk dying in the legislative process.

Rep. Jim Keane, D - HD73
Montana Legislature

Two high-profile bills outlining a path for Montana to borrow tens of millions of dollars to update infrastructure across the state got their first hearings today in the Senate.

Legislation allowing the state to issue general obligation bonds to pay for large-scale public works projects in Montana has routinely failed in recent years.

Montana Capitol in Helena.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A roughly $80 million infrastructure bonding package is moving forward in the Montana House and faces a final vote in the coming days.

The amended bill passed on a 68-32 vote with the Republican Speaker of the House, Majority Leader and other conservatives opposing it.

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.

Montana Capitol.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

UPDATE: House Appropriations voted 17 to five to pass the bill out of committee following its first hearing. 

Gov. Steve Bullock says a Republican-sponsored infrastructure bill could break through what he calls a “log jam” that’s prevented other major public works proposals from passing in the state Legislature.

The so-called State and Local Infrastructure Act got its first hearing in House Appropriations, Wednesday.

Montana Capitol in Helena.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A new proposal from House Republicans is calling for a scaled down version of Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan for the state to borrow money for public works projects.

Bullock’s infrastructure plan released early in the session called for $160 million in state bonding.

That money would fund $44 million in local assistance grants. It would also and pay for additional water and wastewater grants through the treasure state endowment program, funded through coal severance tax.

Poster in MT Gov office outlining some of the $290 million dollars in infrastructure projects Bullock is proposing. That proposal received initial votes and amendments Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Gov. Steve Bullock’s plan for public works projects across the state advanced out of subcommittee review Thursday and the conservative majority is starting to pick it apart.

Republicans stripped out just over $17 million in proposed borrowing that Gov. Bullock’s bill laid out to pay for county and local government infrastructure projects.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R) - Stevensville
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

In first weeks of the legislative session Gov. Steve Bullock and the Republican Majority are trading barbs over how the state should pay for big public projects, including university system improvements and maintenance in towns and counties.

On Wednesday GOP leaders revealed plans for a new system for how Montana borrows money for public works projects.

Legislative Fatigue Sets In On Bonding Bill

Apr 24, 2017
Montana House of Representatives.

An attempt failed Monday at the Montana Legislature to revive a bonding measure that would pay for university buildings on three campuses and more.

Funding to fix ailing public works projects cleared the first legislative hurdle in the joint appropriations subcommittee on Long Range Planning.

The panel voted to approve House Bills 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 14 with only minor changes.