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Montana Governor Has Resisted Calls To Cut Back On State Spending During COVID-19


This story is part of an NPR nationwide analysis of states' revenue and budgets during the pandemic.

Montana's finances are somewhat stable despite the economic hit the state has taken during the coronavirus pandemic. That's the word from the state's budget office.

"This is essentially a manageable situation, which is pretty remarkable in the face of a global pandemic," says Tom Livers, the governor's budget director.

Because of a significant slump in individual income taxes, the latest forecasts show the state's general fund revenue could drop by almost 13% this year. Hits to natural resource industries and Montana's tourism sector add to the loss, but a flush savings account left a sizable cushion heading into the pandemic.

Republican legislators have urged Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to start cutting back on state spending ahead of the next state legislative session in 2021, but Bullock has resisted those calls so far.

Analysts say the quality of current data still leaves some uncertainty in forecasting Montana's future financial health.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director for Montana Public Radio.

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Corin Cates-Carney is the Flathead Valley reporter for MTPR.