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Montana Lawmakers Pass Complete Two-Year State Budget

The Montana State Capitol
Jackie Yamanaka
Yellowstone Public Radio
The Montana State Capitol

After a heated debate and with the end of the session rapidly approaching, lawmakers successfully passed the 2-year state budget Thursday.

Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, said he was proud of the $12 billion budget, particularly that it manages to spend less than the previous 2-year budget. He acknowledged that some Democrats may be upset with certain parts.

“But beauty, in the budget, is in the eyes of the beholder,” Jones said.

Rep. Emma Kerr-Carpenter, D-Billings, was one of the Democrats who argued against the bill, largely because of cuts to education programs and changes to Medicaid eligibility, among other issues.

“I was sent here by my constituents to help fight for them to be able to have lives of dignity, respect and possibility, and that is not in this budget,” Kerr-Carpenter said. “Instead, at almost every turn, we’ve created jobs for lawyers and found ways to flout our constitution.”

The bill passed out of the House 65-33, and out of the Senate 40-10.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.