Montana Public Radio

state budget

Sarah Corbally is an attorney in Helena and previously served as head of Montana’s child and family services division. She’s also on the board of Florence Crittenton.
Corin Cates-Carney

One of the three homes in Montana run by nonprofit organizations that help young moms and their kids stay out of the state’s foster care system closed last week. It was in Billings.

Budget cuts imposed by the state Legislature last year mean the state health department is eliminating more than $1.5 million in funding* for these kinds of organizations, sometimes referred to as "second chance homes."

Jennifer Munger holds a sign protesting state health deparment cuts in Helena, March 1, 2018. Munger says she's recently sober and wants other people with substance abuse issues to be able to get the same treatment she had.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Access to mental health services and addiction treatment, something that has never been great in Montana, could see a significant funding reduction next month as the state health department reduces its substance disorder services.

"If I wouldn’t have had that I probably wouldn’t be alive today. They saved my life," Jennifer Munger says.

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

A legislative audit released Wednesday found over $1.5 billion worth of financial reporting errors in nearly $18 billion of Montana state and local government investments.

The Montana State Board of Investments has the sole authority to invest nearly $18 billion in public retirement system money and state workers compensation insurance funds.

Hearing room at the Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

State lawmakers will receive the legislative audit report Wednesday morning. It says that two public retirement plans are not actuarially sound, meaning the plans will take longer than the 30 years required by law to have enough money to cover the cost of anticipated future retirements.

Vicki LaFond-Smith, mother of two sons with disabilities, Beth Brennaman, staff attorney with Disability Rights Montana, and Jackie Mohler, staff at Family Outreach at a Helena, MT press conference on Health Department Funding,  Monday, February 26, 2018.
Corin

A group of disability rights advocates are calling on Governor Steve Bullock to immediately backfill some of the more than $49 million in cuts to the state health department made during the special legislative session last year. But, the governor’s office says it doesn’t have the power to do that.

Liberty Place in Whitehall, MT provides homes and life training skills for people who live with brain injuries.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana ranks among the top three states in the nation per capita for traumatic brain injuries, according to industry workers and advocacy groups. Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, include strokes, brain infections, or a hit to the head that causes brain damage. 

Rep. Jenny Eck (D) HD79.
Montana Legislature

Now that Montana is a few months removed from a special legislative session called by Governor Bullock to balance the state budget, Montana Public Radio is checking in with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders to get their thoughts on what’s happened since they left Helena.

Party leaders on both sides of the aisle have blamed each other for some of the results of cuts in state spending made amid the more than $200 million budget shortfall. The greatest public outcry is coming over the more than $49 million cut from the state's health department.

Last week we aired a conversation about the budget with Representative Nancy Ballance, a Hamilton Republican and legislative finance leader. Today, we’re hearing from Representative Jenny Eck, a Helena Democrat.

After state health department officials announced they would end all contracts with private companies that help people with developmental disabilities the agency is changing course. Now the department says the department will offer one contract, for the entire state.

Montana State Capitol.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

There are currently more than 1,300 unfilled jobs in Montana executive branch agencies. It’s still unclear exactly how many of those positions are being kept open as a result of the state’s budget shortfall.

The budget state lawmakers passed last year authorizes more than 13,000 employees in administrative agencies like the state departments of health, corrections and transportation.

Rep. Nancy Ballance (R) - Hamilton.
Mike Albans

We’ve been reporting a lot on the budget cuts Governor Steve Bullock’s administration has been making as a result of a more than $200 million state budget shortfall. The cuts are the result of bills passed in the regular and special legislative sessions in 2017.

Since then political leaders on both sides of the aisle have been distancing themselves from some of the impacts of those decisions.

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