HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte says his priority for Montana’s next budget is to use the state’s huge surplus wisely.
Gianforte gave a preview of his proposed budget for the next two years Thursday, at a news conference in Helena.
“Montana taxpayers entrust us to be good stewards of their hard-earned money, and I’m proud that our budget, built for hard-working Montana families, fulfills their trust,” he said.
The biggest provision would be $1 billion in tax cuts. Gianforte is proposing reducing the top income tax rate from 6.5% to 5.9%, adding tax credits for parents with young children and for adoption, and providing property tax relief on owners’ primary residences.
Gianforte also called for significant investments. He proposed $300 million for the state’s behavioral health system, including improvements at the Montana State Hospital – which he vowed Thursday would not be closed. He called for boosting funding for the Montana State Prison, the Montana Highway Patrol and state prosecutors.
The governor’s budget proposes $200 million for water and sewer infrastructure, to encourage housing development – and it suggests tying that funding to local governments adopting policies that support higher density, a main topic of discussion in Gianforte’s housing task force earlier this year. It would direct money to roads and bridges, and it would expand a program to boost starting teacher pay.
Gianforte’s budget would also pay off more than $100 million in state debt to reduce future payments, and it would greatly expand the state “rainy day” emergency fund and the fire suppression fund.
More details will be available when the governor's full budget proposal is officially released next Tuesday.
Newly elected Montana lawmakers will have their say on the budget when the 2023 legislative session begins, on Jan. 2.