Montana’s new State Budget Director Kurt Alme appeared recently on the KGVO Montana Morning show to answer questions about Governor Gianforte’s budget priorities.

Alme addressed the impact of COVID 19 on the state budget, but still provided an optimistic outlook.

“We have had an impact on revenues especially in this tax year you mentioned the impact on businesses and individuals, and that's flowing through to what gets paid into Helena to do the business of the state,” said Alme. “The good news is Governor Gianforte is emphasizing holding the line on new spending and we're going to be able to keep this budget balanced for this biennium without using any of our rainy day funds.”

Alme directly addressed the issue of rapidly rising property taxes.

“This year's two year reappraisal we're expecting to see an increase in residential property tax values of about 12%,” he said. “Of course, the main story there is that's great news that people are moving to Montana. Land values are going up, property values are going up and when we sell our homes, we're going to get more for them; however the property tax is an issue particularly for low income and fixed income people.”

Alme said there are programs in place to assist those who need it most.

“The Governor recognizes that, and he's identified $3 million each year to set aside to help people with limited means, particularly our elderly and or disabled veterans, deal with rising property taxes. We don't ever want anyone to be in a position where they have to consider leaving their home because they can't afford to pay their property taxes.”

Alme said all of Governor Gianforte’s proposals depend on one thing.

“All of those proposals are built around growing the economy,” he said. “The Governor continues to speak about the importance of growing our economy, bringing good jobs to Montana, and that will increase revenues to the state to help us pay our bills down the road, but the most important thing is to get the private sector moving, to get jobs brought to the state, get people back to work and bring more good paying jobs to the state.”

Before being named Gianforte’s budget director, Alme was the U.S. Attorney for Montana under former Governor Steve Bullock.

 

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