Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Elsie Arntzen, is urging Governor Steve Bullock and the legislature to borrow from the state's Coal Tax Trust Fund to solve the $227 million budget shortfall.

“There are ten state payment distributions which are set in law. November’s estimated payment of $125.4 million includes the Guaranteed Tax Base Aid along with School and County Block Grants,” said Arntzen. “The timing of this payment schedule was created in coordination with the Board of Public Education and the Governor’s office. Through my twelve years of legislative experience, I know that there is flexibility in the way that we manage our state’s finances.

Arntzen said Montana’s Legislative Fiscal Division recently made available a document which explains the general fund month end cash balance. It states; “When cash shortfalls occur, law allows the state to temporarily borrow from other state funds. The executive tracks cash and borrows when needed. While in theory $13.7 billion is potentially available for borrowing, $633.7 million in the treasury cash account is the most easily accessible.”

“The Coal Trust Fund,” she said. “We have done some marvelous things by being the Treasure State. That money is put away for the future. It’s put away for my grandchildren and your grandchildren. There is that availability, plus, we have in our state treasury money that flows in all the time and money flows out. I believe that as a state official, we can balance the budget without putting fear into our taxpayers to say that more taxes are needed. It’s just a matter of a transfer, and a temporary transfer, and I can tell you it’s been done multiple times before. So, let’s have that honest conversation. Let’s be transparent about what we have as a state, and then go forward.”