State Budgets 2012: Montana



To see more state budget news and information, visit State Budgets 2012

Budget Background:

  • Fiscal Year Begins: July 
  • Frequency of Legislative Cycle: Biennial
  • Legislative Session for 2012: No regular session
  • Frequency of Budget Cycle: Biennial

Learn more from the National Association of State Budget Officers

Budget News and Information: 2012

Montana is not holding a legislative session in 2012. 


Budget News and Information: Previous Budget Cycles

5/18/11: Governor Schweitzer says tuition may have to go up

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday that he understands university officials may have to raise tuition, but he is hoping it is not necessary, as the Board of Regents gathers in Kalispell to make a decision. Schweitzer, a Democrat, said any increase could have been avoided if lawmakers had endorsed his proposal that sent more state money to public colleges. Republican lawmakers countered during legislative discussions on the matter that higher education should face some of the same cuts in state funding as other areas of government.

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5/12/11: Schweitzer surprises by signing budget bill with no changes

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who's been saying he would use his line-item veto to strike more money out of the main state budget bill passed by the 2011 Legislature, instead signed it into law Thursday without changes, thus setting state spending for the next two years. The Democratic governor signed House Bill 2 at a Capitol conference room, noting that it's not much different than the $3.76 billion, two-year budget he proposed last November.

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5/12/11: Legislators want to study Montana's income tax

Montana legislators’ top priority for an interim study is to examine Montana’s income tax and evaluate options to revise it. The proposed study would examine whether current income-tax deductions, exclusions, exemptions, credits and other special provisions are achieving their intended purposes and look at whether these may increase the complexity of complying with state tax laws. The study resolution also called for looking at whether simplifying tax laws might improve taxpayer compliance and reduce administrative and enforcement costs.

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5/5/11: Budget deal erodes as Schweitzer uses vetoes

A bipartisan budget deal hailed as a seminal achievement before lawmakers adjourned last week began to crumble Wednesday as Gov. Brian Schweitzer started slashing at it with his line-item veto authority. As the budget deal erodes, each side is accusing the other of being the first to break the compromise.

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4/23/11: Schweitzer, GOP leaders agree on budget deal

Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer held a rare joint news conference with Republican legislative leaders Friday evening to announce a breakthrough in budget talks, with both sides signing documents promising to stick to a deal that was hailed as a hard-fought compromise. A key sticking point had been Republicans' refusal to accept about $100 million in federal money for social programs largely aimed at the elderly, poor and disabled — such as the Big Sky Rx program that helps seniors buy prescription drugs. All of that money will be accepted under the compromise, Schweitzer said.

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4/20/11: Legislature breaks again as budget talks falter and GOP waits for Schweitzer veto

Majority Republicans at the Montana Legislature voted Wednesday to take an unusual five-day break and resume the session's final five days next Tuesday, saying talks to set the state budget had reached an impasse with Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer.The session's second extended weekend break in as many weeks comes as Republicans await a Schweitzer veto on House Bill 2, the session's major spending bill. GOP leaders said Wednesday the governor wouldn't give them his veto recommendations in writing, so they decided to take a break until they see the veto language, which has a Saturday deadline.

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4/17/11: School funding bill may include controversial charter school language

The bill that will set state funding for Montana public schools the next two years may include something else bound to cause a political fight: Language authorizing “charter schools” in Montana. Charter schools, which aren’t authorized in current Montana law, are new, experimental schools that would not be subject to many regulations that govern regular public schools.

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4/12/11: Governor signs worker's comp compromise

Gov. Brian Schweitzer has signed the compromise plan he worked out with Republican leaders to reduce worker’s compensation insurance rates universally regarded as among the most expensive in the country. The bill marked the first big policy deal so far this session between Schweitzer, House Speaker Mike Milburn and Senate President Jim Peterson.

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4/12/11: Senate advances GOP proposal to put government spending, salaries online

The state Senate on Tuesday advanced a proposal to put detailed state government spending and employee salary information on a website, as supporters said the public should have easy access to information on how the state spends its money. “The (state) agencies owe this to the people,” said Rep. Tom Burnett, R-Bozeman. “It’s going to cost a little bit of money. But it’s a duty that government owes its citizens.” The Senate voted 30-20 to endorse Burnett’s House Bill 444, which directs the state to create a “public finance website.” The site would have a searchable database and include information such as employees’ salaries, agency budgets, all agency purchases and contracts, grants and leases, and published audits and reports.

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4/12/11: Republican budget plan hits speed bump in state Senate

Senate Republicans lost votes Tuesday from within their ranks for their spending plan — handing a setback to leaders trying to quickly get the budget to Gov. Brian Schweitzer in order to advance negotiations. Three conservative Republicans joined all Democrats on Tuesday in voting against the spending plan in a crucial final Senate vote, where it stalled on a 25-25 deadlock. Senate Republican leaders say they will bring the measure up again, likely on Wednesday. Passing a budget is the only piece of business the Legislature is constitutionally required to do in the 90 days allotted. There are nine legislative days remaining.

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4/9/11: Senate OKs $100 million for building

 The Montana Senate agreed in an initial vote Friday to authorize the state to borrow about $100 million for projects around the state, including vocational school upgrades and $23 million for a new state museum in Helena.

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4/6/11: House, Senate pushing different plans for K-12 funding

The picture for state funding of public schools got a little muddier Wednesday at the Montana Legislature, as House and Senate committees each stuffed their own spending plans into separate bills -- with no resolution in sight.

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4/6/11: Bill calls for referendum on returning some excess tax collections to voters

A bill heard Wednesday would let Montanans vote next year on whether they want to receive refunds of surplus state tax collections if those collections exceed a certain trigger. Senate Bill 426, by Sen. Joe Balyeat, R-Bozeman, told the House Taxation Committee that his bill, dubbed the Treasure State Taxpayer Dividend Program, puts a referendum on the November 2012 ballot. He called it good politics and good policy.

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4/1/11: Bipartisan group tries new solutions

A bipartisan group of House members has hammered out a new, scaled-down public school-funding proposal that still would take some oil-and-gas money from eastern Montana districts to help fund schools statewide, lawmakers said Thursday. Reichner and four other House members – two Democrats and two Republicans — have been meeting this week, working to resurrect a state school-funding plan after a Republican plan died in the Senate last week.

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3/28/11: Long day at Montana Senate to approve GOP budget

The Senate was working late Monday tinkering with the state budget as Republicans agreed to put some money back in for electronic medical records as sought by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, although the vast majority of the proposals to restore the governor's plan were rebuffed by the GOP majority. Republicans running the Senate agreed early Monday that the state should indeed take about $35 million in federal money to help hospitals and local clinics transition to electronic medical records. House Republicans had spurned the money in their version of the budget, arguing it could result in invasions of privacy, since the electronic records could be seen by so many providers. But supporters say the change will speed up transfers of patients and reduce the chance for making mistakes. A Republican proposing reinstatement of the money argued it is especially critical to rural areas that often transfer patients to hospitals in larger towns and cities.

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3/28/11: GOP Senate school-funding bill appears dead

Senate Republicans' school funding bill to borrow from oil and gas and other funds to help increase money for public schools appears dead, muddying the debate over how the Legislature will finance public schools the next two years. Sen. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, the sponsor of Senate Bill 403, said Monday that he has no plans to try to revive the measure, which is parked in a Senate committee.

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3/26/11: Details on pressure points in state budget

As the 2011 Legislature enters its final month, majority Republicans and Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer are worlds apart on many key items in the state budget for the next two years. Below is a look at the major pressure points and highlights in the budget, as approved by the Senate Finance and Claims Committee last week. All figures are for the two-year period starting June 1.

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3/24/11: School-funding bill revived by Senate; some money, equalization stripped out

Senate Republicans' public school-funding proposal got another life Thursday, but not before they sent it back to committee to whack out some key provisions, including $12 million and a formula that would have made taxpayers in low-tax school districts pay more.

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3/24/11: House sticks with analyst's revenue estimate

Lawmakers have decided to stick with a revenue estimate from fiscal analysts that frees up about $40 million for the ongoing budget debate. The House Taxation Committee agreed in a bipartisan vote Wednesday to increase the revenue estimate a bit, while still keeping it about $100 million less than the governor's. The move came after Democrats unsuccessfully tried to convince Republicans to go with the higher figure.

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3/23/11: House leader pitches sales tax proposal for Montana

The Republican House Majority leader is proposing a plan to do away with Montana's income tax and replace it with a sales tax. Rep. Tom McGillvray says House Bill 596 would boost the state's economy by eliminating the time and cost of income tax filing. Other supporters say states with a sales tax instead of an income tax attract workers and increase wages.

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3/23/11: Senate deadlocks on GOP K-12 school funding measure

The Republican-controlled Senate deadlocked on the party's own school-funding plan Wednesday, as a trio of Republicans and all the chamber's Democrats voted against it to force a 25-25 vote that throws the bill into political limbo. SB403would increase state funding for schools by 3 percent over the next two years, cap oil-and-gas revenues for petroleum-rich districts and redistribute some of that oil-and-gas production tax revenue to schools statewide.

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3/19/11: Montana Senate rejects adding spending back to budget bill

In its first action on the state budget, a key Senate panel Friday night repeatedly rejected attempts to add back spending for human-service programs, as Republicans voted in a bloc against any changes to the $3.6 billion spending plan. With little comment, Republicans on the Senate Finance and Claims Committee voted down dozens of amendments offered by Democrats to House Bill 2 to add money back for programs serving senior citizens, the poor, children, and local health clinics and hospitals.

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3/17/11: Gov wants e-record funds

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday that Republican budget crafters are making a bad decision by turning away $35 million in federal money the state would give hospitals for modernizing medical records — and didn’t rule out a veto of the Republican budget package.

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3/16/11: Revenue forecasters reduce estimate

The Legislature’s chief revenue forecaster on Wednesday projected higher state revenue collections over a three-year period, but not by as much as he estimated in February. The new general-fund revenue update by Terry Johnson of the Legislative Fiscal Division will be heard by the House Taxation Committee on Thursday as it formally considers House Joint Resolution 2, the official revenue-estimating resolution.

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3/16/11: So far, GOP has cut all family-planning funds from state budget

The Republican majority in the Montana House has voted to cut nearly all federal and state family-planning funds from the state health care budget, lopping a sizable chunk of money from the budget of 14 clinics around Montana.

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3/14/11: GOP-led House endorses Montana budget plan

The Republican-led House on Monday backed a Montana budget plan that decreases spending primarily by rolling back social services, but also made same last-minute cuts to proposed education spending. Overall, Republicans said their two-year budget plan reduces spending of state tax money about 5 percent to $3.6 billion. It also rejects about $120 million in federal money for programs like health care assistance for children and food stamps.

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3/14/11: Federal tax law change means a $20M hit to state budget next two years

Montana's tax revenue will take a $20 million hit the next two years because of an obscure change in federal tax law on business equipment depreciation, probably creating a budget hole for the 2011 Legislature to fill, state officials say. The predicted loss is linked to a provision in the tax deal, fashioned by President Barack Obama and Congress in December, that allows businesses and individuals to take bigger deductions for investments in business equipment.

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3/14/11: House Republicans press on with cuts in social services

Help for Montana’s poor, disabled and elderly took hits last week as the Republican-controlled House began putting its mark on the plan to guide state spending for the next two years.
Money for schools and universities comes under scrutiny this week as the House moves on from its look at funding for social services. By the weekend, Republicans had cut state spending by more than $200 million.

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3/8/11: Proposed budget cuts could mean fewer jobs in Montana nursing homes

Proposed budget cuts by the governor could cost the jobs of many workers in nursing homes across the state, according to the Montana Health Care Association. A spokeswoman says one-time funding that was placed in the budget two years ago was cut in the governor's budget plan. She says it and could be devastating to the more than 83 nursing homes and in-home health care programs statewide.

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3/3/11: College administrators warn against MT budget cuts

 College administrators warned Montana lawmakers on March 2 that plans to cut the governor's two-year higher education budget proposal will likely result in tuition hikes, fewer classes and less financial aid for students. But the Republican majority running the House Appropriations Committee voted time and again along party lines against amendments that would have restored the $32 million GOP leaders cut from Gov. Brian Schweitzer's budget proposal for 2012 and 2013.

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