MTPR

state budget

the 2017 Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake
Inciweb

The State’s fire fighting savings account started this month with the second lowest balance since it was created a decade ago.

There’s only about $4 million in the fund’s reserves for this fire season. That’s about a fifth of what the state needs to cover an average fire season bill.

Cash register.
(PD)

Late last year Montana lawmakers carved about $170 million from state spending. That led to big cuts – for example, the state health department lost 4.5 percent of its budget, which slashed critical services for some of Montana’s most vulnerable.

Would a new revenue source, such as a sales tax, help prevent future budget crises?

Montana's Flathead Valley from above.
Nicky Ouellet

The Flathead Basin Commission is redefining its role protecting water quality in northwest Montana, after legislators gutted its funding last November and its executive director was fired in February.

The Commission spent much of Wednesday reinventing itself.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Revenue projections indicate the state will likely have enough money at the end of the fiscal year to backfill $45 million in cuts made to state agencies during last year’s special legislative session.

“We are extremely hopeful,” says Representative Nancy Ballance, the Republican chair of the Legislative Finance Committee, which met Monday morning.

Leaders of Montana’s K-12 public schools system will update state lawmakers Thursday morning about progress on rolling out the replacement for the federal No Child Left Behind Act following cuts to education funding last year.

The Office of Public Instruction plans to brief lawmakers on the schools identified this spring as the lowest performing five percent in the state.

Editor's note: state Disistrict Judge James Reynolds issued a temporary restraining order on June 13, 2018 ordering the state to pay the Medicaid Reimbursement rate in effect before January 1, 2018.

The Montana Health Care Association and some of its members filed suit today in state District Court in Helena to stop state cuts to their Medicaid reimbursement rate.

Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Numbers in a new state revenue report mean Montana could likely restore some of the cuts made during last year’s budget crisis. At least that’s how one prominent Republican state lawmaker is interpreting them. 

The Montana health department is offering an Anaconda based nonprofit a contract worth nearly $3 million to take over case management services for people with developmental disabilities.

This is the latest step in restructuring how the health department provides care for people with developmental disabilities in the wake of a state budget crisis.

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

Budgets within Montana’s state health department and office of public defender are busted.

Lawmakers in the Legislative Finance Committee Wednesday debated a proposal from Governor Steve Bullock to borrow more than $23 million from next year’s budget to pay for the state’s current financial troubles.

Montana Revenue Director Mike Kadas.
Montana Department of Revenue

The Montana Department of Revenue is in the process of closing half of the agency’s offices across the state that evaluate property taxes and, on occasion, informally help people with their income tax questions.

Revenue Director Mike Kadas updated lawmakers in the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee Wednesday on how his department is handling budget cuts passed in the 2017 legislative session.

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