Will the Governor’s veto of a bill to provide funding for infrastructure in Eastern Montana see an override by the state legislature? If so, and members of his own party vote against the Governor, how will the Governor react?
I asked some of those very questions to Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) who said he doesn’t know “legislator by legislator” how they will vote on the veto override of HB 218. I also asked him his thoughts on remarks from State Sen. Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls), one of the GOP moderates working with the Governor during the legislative session. Buttrey said “he kinda did” get stabbed in the back by the Governor’s vetoes at the end of the session.
GOV. BULLOCK (D-MT): “Some of the vetoes, certainly isn’t personal, its fiscal. I ended up vetoing bills that Democrats and Republicans wanted. I think that a lot of folks worked together to try and really address some of the essential things that we need in the state, and going forward, we’ll continue to work together.
Full audio of the brief interview can be heard by clicking below:
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In case you missed it, Montana GOP Chairman Will Deschamps had an op-ed in The Flathead Beacon headlined, “Eastern Montana Needs Our Help.”
It comes as no surprise that much of the budget surplus that Montana has enjoyed for the last eight years has come from energy and natural resource development. Oil and gas efforts across Montana, especially our eastern most counties, have provided opportunity across the state and revenue flows to help fund our government services on the state and local level. It comes with surprise and dismay that Governor Steve Bullock chose to veto a strong bipartisan bill, HB 218, which provides much-needed assistance to our eastern residents.
Bullock has stated that eastern Montana got its share of TSEP revenue, but projects east of Jordan actually received $1.6 million less than in 2011. Of the $33,983,538 appropriated in HB 11 (TSEP) only $3 million dollars made it to projects east of Jordan. Finally, there are many who believe that bonding for needs when money is readily available is not wise policy.
Speaking of needs in Eastern Montana, why would a school that just under a decade ago only had 67 students have to lobby the state legislature?
Alex Sakariassen has this for The Missoula Independent
Look at a map and Bainville’s growth starts to make sense. It’s about 26 miles west of Williston, N.D., the epicenter of the Bakken oil boom. The location also explains how a school with fewer than 200 students and an unfinished second story spent $52,659 lobbying the 2013 Montana Legislature—almost doubling its lobbying expenses from 2011 and cracking the top 20 organizations who spent big in Helena this spring.
For Bainville, lobbying has become simply another extension of an oil boom that respects no borders. The public school largely focused its spending efforts in the legislature on bills addressing the amount of oil and natural gas revenues retained by rural school districts. A trio of measures—HBs 176, 177 and 228all sought to increase those amounts or exempt from allocation limits schools like Bainville’s that are experiencing rapid growth in the student population. All died in committee by early April.
But increasing the money coming into Bainville from rampant oil development wasn’t the only issue on Rasmussen’s mind this session. She says she paid particular attention to discussions regarding housing laws. The average starting salary for a Bainville teacher is currently $28,140; Rasmussen says the going rental rate for a house right now is $2,300 a month, or $800 for an RV pad.