Gov. Bullock announces budget cuts, calls special session - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Gov. Bullock announces budget cuts, calls special session

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HELENA - Governor Steve Bullock finalized budget cuts on Monday, paving the way for a special session of the Montana Legislature to address a revenue shortfall.

The budget shortfall is an estimated $227 million. Bullock has proposed about $76.6 million in spending cuts. Lawmakers will be called back to Helena to address the remainder of the shortfall.

Bullock has the authority to cut state agency budgets up to 10 percent to close a budget hole from lagging tax revenue and record firefighting costs.

At a news conference on Monday, the Governor’s office called for hearings to start on Nov. 13, with the session officially getting underway on Nov. 14.

The announcement ends weeks of back and forth negotiations between the Governor’s Office and the Legislature. 

On Nov. 1 the Governor’s budget director, Dan Villa, said a deal was close to tackling the shortfall through spending cuts, tax increases, and budget transfers.

But a day later some Republican House leaders had signaled that the issue was far from settled. Republicans repeatedly called on Bullock to outline the cuts he is willing to make first, and some have expressed opposition to any tax increases.

Last month, bi-partisan members of the Legislative Finance Committee unanimously passed a resolution saying 10 percent cuts are too deep and suggested Bullock work to minimize the impact. The did not give specific suggestions on how to do that.

Bullock says that he is “hopeful a deal will be reached prior to the Legislature’s arrival back in Helena next week” and anticipates “a quick and productive session.”

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