HEADLINES : Montana
Montana Legislature's focus turns to state budget
HELENA - Hot-button social issues grabbed most of the headlines during the first half of the 2011 Legislature, but starting this week, the focus shifts to dollars and cents, as lawmakers hunker down for the nitty-gritty of hammering out Montana's state budget and tax policy for the next two years.
Yet don't expect any fewer political fireworks, as Gov. Brian Schweitzer and his fellow Democrats are vowing a tenacious battle to preserve his proposed budget - and undo preliminary cuts imposed by the Legislature's Republican majority.
"The governor sent (Republicans) a balanced budget and they've done nothing but take an ax to it," Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula, said last week as lawmakers left for their four-day, midsession break. "And it's an irresponsible ax.
"Yes, some things might have needed to be trimmed, but we should be using a scalpel, not an ax."
Republican-led budget subcommittees have recommended about $100 million less in general fund spending than the governor's proposed $3.76 billion for the next two years. His proposal would increase spending for most areas, including human services and education.
Filed Under : K-12 Education