Republican Bill Would Cuts Governor’s Proposed Public Works Funding in Half

HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that trims funding for public works projects to $80 million. That’s half of what Governor Steve Bullock proposed.

Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports, Representative Mike Hopkins from Missoula is sponsoring House Bill 652. he says Bullock’s suggested $160 million in borrowed funds just wasn’t feasible.

 “We account for all the projects that the governor does, other than the museum. But we do it, I think, in a far more realistic way. The other one is completely not so, and has proved to not be so session after session after session, or, the entirety of the time the governor has been in office.”

The bill removes a $32 million request to build the Montana Heritage Center museum. It also only allocates $14 million for local communities to fund specific infrastructure needs, instead of Bullock’s $44 million.

Bullock didn’t say if he would support the bill, but says he’s glad the Legislature is working to fund projects with borrowed money, which has caused infrastructure bills to fail in past sessions. Bullock also says Montanans suffer when critical projects don’t get funded.

 “I’m pleased from the perspective that bonding is on the table. This isn’t about ideology, it’s about a two-thirds vote. So, I’m glad that the Republicans are coming up with a bill that could break that logjam.

The House Appropriations Committee heard testimony on the bill Wednesday, but did not immediately vote on the bill.

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