Governor Bullock Reveals Budget Proposal, Republican Speaker of the House Responds
Today, November 17, Montana Governor Steve Bullock released his proposed budget, which included 300 million dollars in grants and bonds for building infrastructure across the state, creates an early childhood education plan, and expands Medicaid coverage. Bullock says the budget is a sign of state values.
“The budget is a reflection of the values of our state. Montanans recognize that our state is outperforming the nation, and we can continue this through responsible fiscal management and thoughtful investments in priorities like jobs, education, healthcare and infrastructure,” Bullock said. “The budget proposal I’ve presented to the legislature today provides a steady vision for Montana’s future that will ensure our state continues to thrive.”
Some have criticized the budget for spending too much, but Bullock says he’s challenged every expenditure.
“From the day I took office and put the state’s checkbook online, I’ve challenged every expenditure we make and made sure that we’re running an effective government that Montanans can be proud of,” Bullock added.
On the other side of the aisle, newly elected Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen says this budget will have a difficult time getting through the Republican-led House for two main reasons. .
"The governor is proposing to spend more than 300 million dollars on infrastructure in Montana. You've got the practical problem of just trying to get a majority of Republican legislatures in the Legislature to approve that level of spending. This isn't going to be focused, it's not just the oil patch, it's not just for one area, this is going to be $300 million spent all over the state and that, that is a big bill."
Knudsen says Republicans are too wary of debt to pass a large bonding bill.
"The governor proposes putting the state in debt for about two-thirds of it," noted Knudsen. "He wants to borrow approximately $212 million out of that $300 million bill, so, just about two-thirds of it he wants to do through bonding. Just since I've been around, I've seen two large-scale bonding bills go through the legislature, and they both went down, and they went down hard. Republicans don't like borrowing money, they don't like debt."
Representatives from both the Republicans and Democrats have indicated that the Budget bill will likely be one of the most contentious pieces of legislation during the 2015 session.