Taxes are shaping up to be one of the big debates of the 2019 Montana Legislature.
Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports that the budget estimates from the governor’s office and the Legislative Fiscal Division are roughly the same -- about $10 billion over two years to fund a variety of state agencies and programs. The budget includes everything from education to the state’s share of Medicaid expansion.
But, Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s budget proposal is asking for tax increases, mostly on tobacco and liquor, that would bring in more than $160 million in new revenue. Bullock says tax increases are necessary to keep a stable budget.
Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance from Hamilton and chair for the House Appropriations Committee says programs will be discussed, but they wouldn’t be funded with any new sources.
The appropriations committees will work to fund state agencies before discussing any new programs.