Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana Governor Greg Gianforte called into KGVO's Talk Back show on Wednesday to tout his plans for the upcoming legislative session with the projected $1.5 billion budget surplus.

How Should we Spend that $1.5 Billion Budget Surplus?

“Number one, we have a billion dollars in tax reductions in rebates in this budget including a $1,200 dollar child credit,” began Governor Gianforte. “This is going to help lower-income families with young kids and a $5,000 adoption credit so we can get kids out of foster care. That's number one.”

Gianforte laid out more plans, including restoring the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs.

“The second thing you do when you get a little surplus at home is you fix things up,” he said. “We've been kicking the can down the road on the State Hospital (in Warm Springs) for a long time and we need to invest in community-based mental health, so we put $300 million into the state hospital. The same thing is true at the prison. We also created an infrastructure fund. We're proposing this to help with new infrastructure because with the existing programs, we only pay for replacing existing infrastructure and since we have all these people moving here, we need more houses.”

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Governor Gianforte Lays out his Budget Proposals

Gianforte said his budget also proposes strengthening all the state’s emergency funds.

“When you get a little extra money at home, you save,” he said. “So we doubled the rainy day fund, we tripled the fire suppression fund and we created a portion of the fire suppression fund that we can now use for forest mitigation. And then finally, when you get a little extra money, you make an extra credit card payment or you make an extra mortgage payment. We're taking that further. We're proposing that we pay off all the state debt. We'll be ‘debt free in 23’ if this budget gets adopted.”

Affordable Housing is Part of the Governor's Budget

Gianforte said a large chunk of that money must also be used to enable Montanans to purchase an affordable home.

“We set aside $300 million in our budget specifically for roads, bridges, water, and sewer that are new,” he said. “In conjunction with that, we have to make sure these houses are affordable. So we're going to tie one of the recommendations of the committee to density requirements and smaller lot size requirements if you're going to use this expansion infrastructure money. Regulations are about 25 percent of the cost of a new home. We've got to peel some of that back and make sure we're actually building stuff that's affordable.”

The 2023 Montana Legislature begins in January and will last for 90 days.

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