News & Features

Budget Committee Hearings Begin at Special Session

Republicans Nancy Ballance of Hamilton and Ed Buttrey of Great Falls sponsor measures to address $227 million shortfall

HELENA — A proposal to temporarily charge a fee for state management of Montana’s workers’ compensation fund drew strong opposition as lawmakers began a special session to address a $227 million budget shortfall.

The 3 percent management fee on Montana State Fund assets above $1 billion would raise an estimated $30 million.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports that deputy insurance commissioner Bob Biskupiak argued Monday the money came from policyholders and should remain with them.

A state fund official says it’s receiving about 2.6 percent return on its investments, so the fee would cost the plan money.

Great Falls Republican Sen. Ed Buttrey sponsored the measure. He and other supporters say the temporary fee is better than cutting services to vulnerable citizens.

A joint committee did not vote on the bill.

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of Montana’s House Appropriations Committee is sponsoring a bill to transfer state agency money to the general fund to help balance the state budget.

Republican Nancy Ballance of Hamilton spoke Monday in favor of transferring nearly $21 million from various state agencies into the general fund.

The largest amounts are $8.4 million from school facilities and technology, $8 million in highway money and $2 million from a capitol complex maintenance fund.

Lawmakers did not immediately vote on the measure.

 

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