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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Montana’s 2017 Biennium: Budgeting and Policy in the Treasure State


The 64th Montana Legislature ended its constitutionally mandated 90-day biennium session with a $10 billion, two-year, all funds budget on April 28, 2015. Some observers claim Democratic Governor Steve Bullock and Democrats came out the winners, although Republicans controlled the legislature. The governor signed 431 bills into law this session, vetoed 53 bills, and allowed 19 to become law without his signature.

Overall, the session was less contentious than in recent years in the Republican controlled legislature. There were few “big issues” other than expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act provisions and campaign finance reform. The GOP controlled legislature passed the expansion. Revenue was not a problem for the new biennium, which usually helps make the session run more smoothly. Overall, it was hardly an exciting legislative session since there were few controversial policy areas addressed by the legislature and governor. In the past, some sessions have been highly contentious, but that was not the case with the 64th Montana Legislature. With divided government, the legislative session ended with a balanced budget and state in fairly sound fiscal condition.

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