Legislators Discuss Cash, Bonded Infrastructure Bill

HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – When it comes to maintaining the state’s infrastructure, Republican Representative Nancy Ballance from Hamilton says the debate boils down to two arguments.

“When we argue about infrastructure, and we argue about it every single session, the problem is you get two arguments going at the same time. One argument is what should we fund. Which, in my opinion, should be separated from how do you pay for it.”

Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports, Montana lawmakers are aiming to solidify a means to pay for public works projects with House Bill 553. The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Eric Moore from Miles City, would establish a payment play that mixes cash and borrowed funds.

Moore says the bill will compare how much the state owes with revenue it’s taking in to determine how much money can be spent on infrastructure projects. For this session, he estimates around $70 million to be appropriated.

“We either issue bonds or pay cash, depending on how full it is. When we’re flush and full of cash, we pay cash. When times are a little tight, we issue more bonds.”

The 2017 Montana Legislature failed to pass a bonding infrastructure bill by a margin of two votes.

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