MT Board of Investments offers top job to Bullock’s budget director

Posted at 12:56 PM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 14:56:08-04

The state Board of Investments, which manages $18 billion in state assets, has offered its top administrative job to Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget director, Dan Villa.

The board voted 5-3 last week to offer the job of executive director to Villa, who has been state budget director since 2011, under governors Brian Schweitzer and Bullock.

Villa, 35, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but Bullock’s office confirmed Tuesday that Villa plans to take the job at the Board of Investments.

In a statement, Bullock said Villa has “served Montanans well” both as state budget director and in the Legislature, where he served as a state representative from Anaconda from 2005-2009.

“He has guided the state of Montana’s budget through robust and challenging times and I have valued his counsel during my time as governor,” Bullock said. “I congratulate him on his new position and his continued service to the people of Montana.”

The governor’s office said Villa will continue as budget director until a replacement is named. The budget director is appointed by the governor and is part of the governor’s cabinet.

Board of Investments Chairman Mark Noennig, a Billings attorney, told MTN News Tuesday that the offer to Villa is subject to working out details like salary and starting date.

At the Board of Investments, Villa will succeed Executive Director David Ewer, who also was Villa’s predecessor as state budget director, under Gov. Schweitzer.

Ewer, 64, announced this spring that he will retire this year. His last day on the job is Sept. 28. Ewer earns $226,000 a year as executive director for the Board of Investments.

The board manages many state investment funds, including public employees’ retirement funds, a trust that helps finance public schools and the permanent coal tax trust fund.

As Bullock’s budget director, Villa presided over budgets that ran big surpluses in 2013 and 2015. But state revenue stalled beginning in 2016, leading to a deficit the next year and an eventual budget crisis, resulting in cuts to many state programs and a November special session of the Legislature that cut budgets further.

State revenue has since rebounded, enabling the governor to restore some of the budget cuts for the current fiscal year, which began in July.

Bullock has said he plans to announce details on the budget restorations by the end of August.