Budget Projections Will Challenge Next Governor
Dismal budget projections are going to make life tougher for whoever is elected Montana governor in 2016. Declining revenues and climbing costs will present a challenge for the governor to balance the budget and fulfill campaign promises — such as funding infrastructure projects, offering public preschool, or reducing property tax rates. Montana’s revenue growth has slowed compared to previous years, a trend that hit states with industries such as coal particularly hard, according to an analysis by the National Association of State Budget Officers.
Some, like Wyoming and North Dakota, had to call special sessions to make emergency spending cuts. Earlier this summer, Montana ended the 2016 fiscal year with $100 million less than it had projected. By next summer, it could fall another $100 million. It’s projected to come within a $1 million of triggering automatic agency cuts, according to a recent report by the Legislative Fiscal Division.