EDITORIAL: Legislature’s focus must be budget

Print Article

Tomorrow, the 65th Montana Legislature will convene in Helena. And while legislators have a full collective plate already, balancing the next two-year state budget will be the centerpiece for much of the 90-day session.

The most recent revenue projections from the Legislature and Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget office provided a dash of optimism after the sobering drop in tax collections reported earlier in 2016. But lawmakers from both parties agree that the state government is likely headed for some belt-tightening over the next two years.

Local GOP legislators rightly note that Montana’s balance sheet should reflect the lower-than-expected revenue flowing into state coffers this year. But the need for careful budgeting doesn’t abdicate the state from its role to help communities in the Treasure State struggling to address a range of issues — from tackling rising crime and drug addiction to safeguarding our world-renowned waters from the further spread of invasive species.

And after a half-decade of failed efforts to pass a spending package that addresses the crumbling infrastructure of communities across Montana, we hope 2017 will be the year that the two parties finally hammer out a thoughtful, bipartisan compromise.

The Montana Infrastructure Coalition seems to have laid out a promising starting point. The group’s recommendation for a narrower, GOP-favored definition of “infrastructure” is paired with the assertion that some level of bonding will be necessary to balance a cash-strapped state budget while funding those projects. Other pieces of the coalition’s ambitious proposal similarly pull from both parties.

Those proposals on infrastructure funding and other important issues will inevitably emerge from the session’s political wrangling and policy debates with substantial alterations.

But like it or not, the state’s voters again chose a divided government on Nov. 8. And they expect both sides to approach the next four months with open minds and a willingness to work together toward solutions that will benefit all Montanans.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Trump and the ‘Mean Girls’ of the media

June 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Daily Inter Lake The preening journalists who have made a profession out of hounding Donald Trump probably see themselves as avatars of Woodward and Bernstein in “All the President’s Men,” but I think they are sadl...

Comments

Read More

Congratulations to ‘20 Under 40’

June 23, 2017 at 6:11 pm | Daily Inter Lake Earlier this week, 20 of the Flathead Valley’s accomplished young professionals were honored as the inaugural class of “20 Under 40.” More than 130 nominations representing 99 different young profes...

Comments

Read More

Bypass makes its presence felt

June 21, 2017 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Whether you love or loathe the U.S. 93 bypass, drive it daily or avoid those roundabouts at all costs — there’s no denying the economic impact the monumental construction project had on our valley. ...

Comments

Read More

Support United Way in tough time

June 18, 2017 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake The Inter Lake reported last Sunday that the local United Way agency experienced a major shortfall in expected revenue last year, leading to serious problems for local nonprofits and even helping to ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2017 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X