Bullock Touts Full Fire Fund plus Reserves to Handle Pandemic
In a press conference on Monday from Helena, Governor Steve Bullock touted the fact that Montana’s fire fund is completely full and that the state budget is ready to stand on its own for Coronavirus funding, if need be.
Reading from a prepared statement, Bullock began by saying that the state’s fire fund has been filled to its legal maximum.
“Over the weekend, we transferred $46.7 million into the fire suppression fund allowing us to fill it to the statutory maximum of 101 point 5 million,” said Bullock. “This puts the fire fund at its maximum cap for the first time in history. State agencies finished the fiscal year under budget and by law those reversions and are transferred to the fire fund because the fund has now reached its maximum cap the remainder of that reversions which is approximately $40 million stayed in the general fund. At the start of the pandemic I asked state agencies to tighten their belts and I'm pleased that they did so.”
Unlike most states, Montana can manage with or without federal revenue relief, but getting some assistance from the federal government will go a long way toward normalizing the state revenue picture in the next couple of years looking forward.
Bullock also referenced what is now known as the ‘rainy day fund’ and that it also is full to the brim.
“The Budget Stabilization Reserve or the ‘rainy day fund’ remains at its statutory maximum of $114.2 million,” he said. “This is the second year in a row that the reserve has been funded its statutory cap and it's available to sustain the budget should revenue collections or expenditures vary from projections as we continue to navigate through the pandemic.”
In fact, Bullock noted that the state’s finances are in such good shape that any more federal COVID funds would be welcome, but largely unnecessary.
“If Congress ever takes action on the question of revenue relief to local and state governments, we will finally know what tools we have available going into the next biennium,” he said. “Unlike most states, Montana can manage with or without federal revenue relief, but getting some assistance from the federal government will go a long way toward normalizing the state revenue picture in the next couple of years looking forward.”
Additionally, Fitch Ratings recently affirmed Montana’s general obligation bond rating of AA+ and declared Montana’s outlook as stable.