Dr. Patrick Barkey, Director of the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research appeared on the KGVO Talk Back show on Friday to answer questions from listeners about issues important to the state’s economy.

Dr. Barkey opened with a look at the budget-making process in the state legislature which sometimes doesn’t go as well as planned.

Patrick Barkey Addressed the State Budget Process

“I know what happens in the economy, and I know that one of the fundamental pieces of every legislative session is the budget,” began Barkey. “The budget is driven by the revenue projections, and that ultimately depends on the economy. So that's where I come in and that's where I try to pay attention. The legislature in every session has to plan two and a half years worth of spending and two and a half years worth of revenue, and those forecasts sometimes go awry.”

Barkey said Montana has been Under-Building Housing for Decades

One listener asked Barkey about the relationship between homelessness, and he said there was a lack of will to build more housing over a number of years.

“Homelessness is a difficult problem to solve, there are some legal issues involved with respect to homelessness which Missoula is facing head-on with respect to shelter space and whether you can remove people from camping and all this sort of stuff,” he said. “But I think in the research I've seen, it's really pretty clear that we're under-building housing.”

Barkey expanded on the phenomenon of homelessness and the under-building of homes over several decades.

“You're looking at where homelessness is the most acute, and it really is a profound and extended period in which we have been under-building housing,” he said. “This is affecting lots of levels of the market. It's affecting people in different ways. There's a lot of housing stress that you do not see, and that may not be a complete solution to the problem we're talking about. I think with respect to what we're seeing and where we're seeing it. I think the research is pretty compelling on this. The under-supply of housing is what is really going to have to be part of the solution.”

Barkey Promoted the BBER's Next Economic Update

Barkey said the next special event that the Bureau of Business and Economic Research will conduct will be later this summer, and it will address electricity production.

“It's a time coming up very soon for our mid-year economic update, where we try to look at how our forecasts panned out for the economy,” he said. “The theme they're taking up this time ‘Is Montana's Electricity Supply Reliable and for how much longer’ is the question we're asking. So that's a special topic we're going into. That's coming up in early August so that's a little while into the future, but not so far that we're not already getting ready for it.”

Click here for more details on the BBER’s Economic Update.

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