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Montana House Speaker Appeals To Governor – Protect Medicaid Funds

photo by Jon KIng

UPDATE –  4:00 p.m. Thursday, April 20

Governor Bullock has returned HB 334 to the House floor with amendments, which, according to Speaker Knudsen, is nearly the same as vetoing the bill.

When Governor Steve Bullock added $10 million to the State Department of Transportation before the legislative session began, those funds actually were taken from the state’s Medicaid account.

Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen is asking Governor Bullock to sign House Bill 334, which would herein ensure that funds for the elderly and disabled will stay in the Medicaid account.

“Our position in the Republican caucus was you are literally taking Medicaid dollars from the most needy people in the state of Montana for services that are already limited, and literally put it into highway construction,” Knudsen said. “We did not think that was appropriate, so House Bill 334 was proposed which says that Medicaid dollars have to be spent on Medicaid.”

Knudsen said the governor has until the end of business on Thursday to either sign the bill, veto it, or do nothing and allow the bill to become law.

Knudsen said House Bill 2, the main budget bill is for all intents and purposes, finished. He said the governor and his staff will meet with legislative leaders to hammer out any differences that may remain. Knudsen expects there to be a $200 million ‘rainy day fund’ when the session ends on May 1.

In one other piece of unfinished business, Knudsen said the mail ballot bill is also effectively dead.

“That will probably wait till the end of the session,” he said. “I think it’s probably too late now, since all the counties have already set up for a regular polling election, and I think at this point, I think it’s just semantics.”


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