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Montana Senate Honing Plan For Coronavirus Relief Spending, Boosts Broadband Funds

Jackie Yamanaka/YPR

The Montana Senate has offered support to a state spending plan for more than $2 billion in federal coronavirus aid.

The plan outlines how Montana will distribute money for business grants, health services and local government spending, among other things. Senate lawmakers gave it initial approval on a 32-18 vote, with some Democrats and conservative Republicans in opposition.

Buffalo Republican Sen. Ryan Osmundson said the wide-ranging policy remains a work in progress.

“People have often described this bill as flying the plane while you’re building it, and that’s certainly what we’ve had to do with this bill,” Osmundson said.

Lawmakers recently amended the bill to increase proposed spending on broadband infrastructure to $275 million.

Osmundson said the policy will likely move to a joint committee with the House to reconcile that and other amendments, pending another Senate vote.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America state house reporter.