Montana House will take final vote on state budget Friday

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – The Montana House of Representatives is expected to take a final vote Friday on House Bill 2, the state’s main budget bill.

The Republican-held House shot down over two dozen amendments Thursday, most of them from Democrats, that would have provided more state funding for new and existing programs.

“These are not haircuts, these are straight jackets we’re putting on some of these programs,” said Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, D-Helena.

Rep. Nancy Ballance, D-Hamilton, said it’s not logical to fund the $200 million worth of amendments.

“So unless there’s another packet of amendments that we haven’t seen yet that make cuts to other programs or services to pay for these amendments, then it is simply political theater with no basis in reality, and simply an exercise for the media,” she said.

The state’s budget, which is facing a shortfall, has become a key issue this session.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.