Special Session revealed too much government growth

Rep. Vince Ricci
Montana House District 55

We got the call; Governor Steve Bullock called the legislature back for a special session that began on Nov. 13 to fix the state’s budget shortfall. I was happy to go; three committees met the first day, one being business and labor which I am vice chair. So we were off the first morning hearing bills trying to find ways to shore up the budget without raising taxes.
The legislature appropriates the money and builds the budget, but the governor and his administration control the spending. When we left Helena in the spring of 2015 the state had a $300 million dollar budget surplus. In January of 2017 at his state of the state address to the legislature Governor Bullock told us that the state of the state is strong. But early in the 2017 session budget shortfalls were already emerging complicating building the new budget. Sometime in the fall of 2016 the short falls were apparent and should have been dealt with at that time, the governor needed to begin to make cuts then and manage the budget. But he did not, he blamed the citizen legislature. When that didn’t work he threatened to cut benefits from the state’s most vulnerable. The governor is surrounded by expert financial planners. He did not cut non-critical services and expenses. So six months after he could have started making cuts he calls a special session of the citizen legislature to fix it. And the legislature got the job done, gave the governor $230 million for him to work with and no new taxes.
The core problem is the growth of government. The state has an estimated seven percent increase in revenue over the next two years. I understand that we have a responsibility to provide services to our citizens. But we will never be able to generate enough revenue if government growth continues at its current rate.

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