Bullock Says No Need to Cut State Services in Next Budget

Governor credited the state’s full budget reserves in allowing the state to weather the storm caused by COVID-19

By Iris Samuels, Associated Press/Report for America
The Montana State Capitol building in Helena. Beacon File Photo

HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock released a draft budget for the next two years on Monday that does not cut essential state services or raise taxes. But the proposal could face significant changes by the incoming Republican governor-elect and the Republican-controlled legislature.

The outgoing Democratic governor credited the state’s full budget reserves in allowing the state to weather the storm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic without cutting services. The budget proposal for a two-year period ending in June 2023 makes use of $75 million from the state’s rainy day fund.

“If the next administration and legislature choose to cut government services, it’ll be based on ideology, not based on necessity,” Bullock said during a news conference.

Bullock’s proposal includes a year-over-year increase of 1.6% compared with the previous budget.

Republican Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte did not respond to a request for comment on Bullock’s proposal. Gianforte, who will be Montana’s first Republican governor in 16 years, campaigned on a promise to cut taxes and hold the line on government spending.

Bullock said he did not consult with Gianforte before releasing his budget proposal.

Gianforte can make changes to the budget proposal when he assumes office in January, before the proposal is considered by the Republican-controlled legislature.

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