Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Governor Greg Gianforte has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in his proposed 2023 budget for law enforcement, drug interdiction, the State Hospital at Warm Springs and the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

At his Helena press conference on Thursday, the topic was public safety in the form of millions of dollars pledged from his proposed 2023 budget.

Gianforte opened with the familiar facts about how drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl are flooding over the southern border and making their way to Montana affecting thousands of families.

Gianforte Addressed Public Safety Concerns in his Press Conference

“Federal officials admit that fentanyl is coming into our country illegally from Mexico,” began Governor Gianforte. “Even though we're some 1,200 miles away Montana is not out of fentanyl’s fatal grip. Just last month in Butte, we saw authorities bust a large scale drug trafficking organization with ties to the Sinaloa cartel that's pushing meth, fentanyl and heroin into the state.”

To emphasize the point, Gianforte quoted numbers provided to his office from Montana’s Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

A Disturbing Reminder about Math and Fentanyl

“As the Attorney General (Knudsen) announced in November, law enforcement seized twice as much fentanyl in the first three quarters of 2022 than they did in the last four years combined,” he said. “Montana also faces a growing crisis of missing and murdered indigenous persons, and we've seen human trafficking, which is another tragic trend that ties to our porous southern border that presents an ever growing threat to communities across our state and nation.”

Gianforte detailed his budget’s financial commitment to fighting the incoming drug and crime epidemic.

“To ensure we're cracking down on criminals, our budget also funds 16 new highway patrol troopers and criminal investigators, as well as six new prosecutors at the Montana Department of Justice,” he said. “These Criminal Investigation Division agents will focus on drug trafficking, human trafficking, narcotics, major crimes and crimes against children, and the new highway patrol troopers will strengthen our drug interdiction programs.”

In addition to interdiction and incarceration, Governor Gianforte also emphasized the importance of treatment with more millions from his proposed budget.

Warm Springs and the State Prison will also be Updated and Fully Funded

“We're making a $300 million generational commitment to Montana's behavioral health system,” he said. “The State Hospital is a critical safety net for those who need access to acute inpatient psychiatric care, and our investments will repair it to better ensure patient and provider safety and improve patient services. Repairing another long neglected state facility, we're also investing an additional $200 million to repair and expand capacity at the Montana State Prison (in Deer Lodge).”

The Governor emphasized the Heart Fund, established in 2021, continues to provide monies for drug and alcohol treatment, and additional funding is a part of his proposed budget this session.

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