Budget battle lines drawn at 2017 MT Legislature

HELENA – Leading GOP lawmakers Wednesday said they’ll start the budget process by cutting Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s proposals by another $50 million, because they don’t expect Republicans will accept any major tax increases.

“It is extremely unlikely, given the makeup of the (Republican) majority, that there’s going to be a tax increase on the traditional economy of Montana,” said Sen. Llew Jones of Conrad, who chairs the Senate’s budget committee. “We therefore need to address the problem of reduced revenue by cuts, not just revenue increases or transfers.”

Votes to reduce the budget’s starting point are likely to come next week, as bipartisan budget panels begin the work of crafting Montana’s two-year spending plan.

Bullock has already proposed $74 million in budget cuts for state agencies, but he also uses $125 million in tax increases and some additional fund transfers to balance the budget – and, leave a $300 million ending cushion.

Read the story at KBZK


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