$10.3B budget a vote away from Montana governor's desk


HELENA, Mont. - The Montana House has endorsed the Senate's changes to the 2018-2019 state budget, leaving one more floor vote before the $10.3 billion spending plan goes to Gov. Steve Bullock.

Thursday's vote was 60-40, with Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder the only Democrat joining the Republican majority in approving the bill.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen called this budget the tightest he's seen in four legislative sessions. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nancy Ballance says despite cuts across most agencies, essential services such as education, health care and corrections are still funded.

Democratic lawmakers say the spending plan cuts higher education too deeply and shifts public school costs to property taxpayers.

House Minority Leader Jenny Eck says the Republican majority's decision to reject tax increases on the wealthy and out-of-state corporations means working families will have to pay.