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state budget

State Budget Director Tom Livers speaks during a House Appropriations hearing on March 7, 2019.  Gov. Steve Bullock's administration opposes some of the Legislature's proposed eliminations in vacant state job positions.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration is objecting to the Legislature’s initial plan to cut funding for around 230 open job positions across Montana government in the next state budget.

The state’s $4.3 billion general fund budget is first up for debate as lawmakers arrive back in Helena for the second half of the 2019 legislative session.

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 House of Representatives.
MTPR

Montana’s 2019 legislative session is at the halfway point, and lawmakers will now break for a week as policy bills are transferred between the House and Senate.

During the first 45 days, the Legislature signed off on a $77 million K-12 school funding package, reached an apparent compromise on long fought-over infrastructure spending, and started laying the foundation for the next state budget.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

Tonight on Capitol Talk: The state admits it needs to do a lot better job monitoring for-profit wilderness schools for troubled teens. Economics hold little sway in the effort to abolish Montana's death penalty. Money is being restored to the depleted Health Department budget. Another Montana campaign finance reform law is upheld. And lawmakers may have found a way to bridge the infrastructure impasse.

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

A 2.5 percent sales tax and the elimination of certain property taxes is under consideration by the Montana Legislature.

It’s a proposal that could swing the source of billions of dollars in state revenue; create new regional commissions to recommend how public dollars are spent; and shift the burden of taxes across Montana.

The House chamber at the Montana Legislature.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Montana House narrowly approved a bill Monday to make it harder for state lawmakers to raise taxes.

The Republican majority advanced House Bill 148 despite a handful of their party joining Democrats in opposition.

An woman holds a sign during a picket of Western Montana Mental Health Center in Missoula, Dec. 18, 2017, following state budget cuts to mental health services.
Olga Kreimer

Montana lawmakers met today to start setting the budget for programs that help people with mental illness or drug and alcohol use disorders.

State health department officials say in recent years the administration has increased Montanans’ access to mental health care with the help of Medicaid expansion.

On June 24, assisted living businesses and workers asked the Montana Legislature to increase payments for day-to-day services for seniors and people with disabilities.
(PD)

Businesses that care for the elderly, poor and disabled say they’re struggling to make ends meet on what the state pays for housing and assisted living services.

Much of that funding is via Medicaid, and on Thursday, assisted living businesses and workers asked the Montana Legislature to increase payments for day-to-day services for seniors and people with disabilities.

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.

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.

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