Montana Senator Fred Thomas on Bipartisanship and Budgets
The Montana state budget, currently known as House Bill 2, was passed by the House in a surprising unanimous vote this month.
A unanimous vote on a budget has not happened in Montana for decades, and many believe the vote is evidence of a new era of bipartisanship in Helena.
According to Montana State Senator Fred Thomas, a unanimous vote in the Senate is very unlikely.
“I think they should have sent us a far more conservative budget,” Thomas said. “We’re out of structural balance now. That bill spends more money than we have estimated coming in by about a $100 million dollars. That’s downside number one. Number two, it doesn’t allow for any reduction in taxes whether it be income or property taxes, which is very important to us.”
Thomas said there is a new air of bipartisanship in the capitol, and he gives the credit to Governor Steve Bullock.
“I’m telling you this new governor is just a total breath of fresh air,” Thomas said. “The prior governor’s ego was just as big as the Big Sky, and this current governor you can go see him, and talk to him, and he’ll spend twice the time you’d expect with you. It’s totally changed the atmosphere in this capitol.”
Thomas said that areas in the budget that need to be cut back include human services and K-12 education expenditures.