Montana Public Radio

state budget

Gov. Bullock resists pressure to cut spending because of the economic fallout of the pandemic. Republican candidates sound familiar themes in their new campaign ads. Montana has a higher number of women running for office this year. And why some Democrats are thinking about voting for a Republican in the primary.

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock today said the state’s finances are in a “historically strong position” heading further into the COVID-19 pandemic. State officials are still working with incomplete information about the pandemic’s economic impacts.

Estimated FY 2020 Montana budget balances.
Montana Legislative Fiscal Division

A letter drafted by the Montana speaker of the House asks Gov. Steve Bullock to consider reducing government spending over concerns about declining state revenue.

The draft will be discussed by the legislative Revenue Interim Committee next week as state leaders continue to crunch the numbers of the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic in Montana.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, the services provided by Montana’s mental health and addiction clinics are getting even more complicated.

Those who survived the 2017 state budget cuts have hung on by their fingernails ever since. And it may get a lot more difficult.

Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-HD 87.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana state lawmakers say the state government is flush with reserve cash as the COVID-19 pandemic creates economic uncertainty around the world. Analysts with the Montana Legislative Fiscal Division report the state’s level of cash reserves, currently sitting at $464 million, is relatively high compared to most years in the past.

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The Bullock administration Monday announced its plan to double the number of Montanans receiving community-based mental health care treatment over the next five years .

Some mental health care providers in the state are still stinging from nearly 3 year old state budget cuts.

Legislative Auditor Angus Maciver answers lawmakers questions Jan. 13, 2020. The Legislative Audit Division and the Governor's Office are in an ongoing dispute over an unpublished report looking at Montana's  health department and Medicaid system.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s Legislative Auditor is pushing back against the Governor’s Office’s public criticism of an unpublished report on the state health department. The administration says the details are holding up $80 million in infrastructure projects.

Lawmakers were briefed on the brewing controversy during the kickoff of Legislative Week.

A helicopter drops water on the Bannack Fire, July 25, 2019.
Inciweb

Montana’s firefighting fund is in good shape moving into the end of the year, according to the state budget director.

Tom Livers, director of the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning told the Legislative Finance Committee Tuesday that this and last years’ mild fire seasons have swelled the state’s firefighting savings account.

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.

House Bill 300, introduced in the 2019 Montana Legislative session, called for a 2.5 percent sales tax and the elimination of certain property taxes.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers will take a comprehensive look at state and local tax policy over the next two years. Legislators say a changing economy and increasing population means Montana should consider new ways of collecting taxes.

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