There have been a lot of mixed messages about who will be the finance chair for the Montana State House for the next biennium, many presumed that Representative Nancy Ballance would maintain the position after holding it for two sessions and a special session, but there was an early announcement that Representative Carl Glimm would take over as finance chair, well… after days of discussion it appears the answer is both… Ballance explains.

“I feel if the two of us couldn’t figure it out than neither one of us deserves to be chair,” Ballance said. “I offered vice chair to him and he was not interested in that spot. We came to an agreement that we would share the chair duty.”

Sharing a finance chair position is very unusual… in fact, this may be the first time it’s ever happened in Montana.  Ballance says she’s happy they reached an agreement, but is a little concerned about how it will work in the end.

“It would be sort of like a business having two chief financial officers,” Ballance said. “It is an extremely unusual situation that I personally think is rather unprofessional, but neither side was moving. I know what it takes to put a budget together successfully. I was not going to give that up easily. This is going to be a tough budget session once again. Medicaid expansion, depending on which way that one goes, makes it doubly difficult. I was not willing to put that into someone’s hands that didn’t have the experience of having done it before.”

The finance chairs will face other difficulties when the new biennium starts in January: Governor Steve Bullock has appointed Tom Livers to serve as his Budget Director this year to replace Dan Villa who left that position during the summer. Villa had worked as budget Director since 2011 when he was put into that position by then-Governor Brian Schewitzer.