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Montana legislators consider holding special session to address budget surplus

Jackie Yamanaka
Yellowstone Public Radio/File photo

Montana legislators are voting whether to hold a special session to address the state's budget surplus.

In a letter sent last week, Senate Majority Leader Cary Smith and House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, along with eight other GOP legislators, asked the Secretary of State’s office to poll state legislators about holding a special session next month.

Over the course of the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years, the state of Montana accrued a $1.5 billion budget surplus. The 10 legislators who signed the letter say they would apply the surplus to rebates for some Montana homeowners and taxpayers, and to a $100 million payment to reduce the state’s bonded debt.

There have been disagreements between Montana Republicans and Democrats and within each party over how the budget surplus should be used ever since Gov. Greg Gianforte signed off on the budget in May 2021. Legislators have until Sept. 14 to return their ballots. The special session would begin on Sept. 29.

Smith and Vinton released a statement Monday afternoon urging Montanans to contact their legislators regarding having a special session, citing the need to return surplus funds to Montanans sooner than a normal session would allow.