On Wednesday, the Montana Legislative Fiscal Committee met via conference call to discuss the state budget. A major disagreement was found on the issue of a proposed transfer of funds budgeted to be spent next year that will instead by shifted to this year’s budget. Committee Member Republican Nancy Balance says the Executive Branch needs to explain how the budget hole in 2019, will be covered before the transfer.

“It is about $30 million in total, up $21 million for health and human services and $3 million for the office of public defender and then there is some technical things that needed to happen, which are a little bit different because they are all small,” Ballance said. “I was not comfortable proceeding and I think none of the Republicans, according to the votes, were comfortable proceeding without having that plan that said what are you going to do to make this up in 2019.”

Democrats wanted Republicans to issue a “no comment”, which would allow the transfer to go through immediately. But Republicans didn’t go along.

“In my mind, that is simply not doing our job,” Ballance said. “If there had been nothing to comment on, if it was just an easy request, you can see that 2019 will not be a problem, that is fine, but I think the kind of budget year we have had, the difficulties with revenue, we need to be very clear on what this means for 2019 and what it means going in to the next session.”

The money will be transferred regardless on June 10th. Because no plans were made on how to fill the $30 million hole in 2019, Ballance believes the next legislative session will be asked to approve a transfer of funds from the 2020 budget to fill the void.

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