Montana Revenue $75 Million Below Forecasts, Cuts Triggered Across Agencies
During the last legislative session, the state budget was built to weather a worst-case scenario in which state revenues came in far below projections. Representative Nancy Balance worked closely on the House Budget and says she received word yesterday from the state budget director Dan Villa, that revenues were indeed far below what was expected, to the tune of around $75 million.
"As a safeguard we put triggers at every $12 million increment, so certain triggers were hit at $12 million under, then the next trigger at $24 million, then $36 million, then $48 million," Ballance said. "It clearly looks like we will hit all four."
Each trigger brought more cuts to state budgets, the second trigger caused a half percent cut in all state agencies and no pay raise for state workers. Now it appears at least 16 state employees will lose their jobs. Multiple triggers siphoned funding away from fire suppression and also reduced payments to medicaid providers. Balance explains the cuts that triggers three and four will bring.
"The state library and the digitization of books will be slowed down, so there will be no money allocated for that in this biennium the project doesn't go away it is just not funded," Ballance said. "The Historical Society, I know has been talking about the cuts to their research portion. There was a cut in tourism, in tourism promotion, and a cut in agriculture marketing."
Many are wondering why revenue projections were so wrong. The common explanation is that capital gains are down and personal income is under reported, because Montanans are waiting for expected tax cuts from the Trump administration.