Montana Governor Steve Bullock today reflected on the highlights and accomplishments of his fourth and final legislative session as governor. Close to every proposal Governor Bullock asked the legislature to take seriously in his fourth and final State of the State address has made it to his desk.
“Montana continues to be a shining example of how our political system is supposed to work, especially at a time when the rest of the nation fails to come together. From protecting the healthcare of Montanans and investing in infrastructure across the state, to freezing college tuition and banning foreign money in our elections, Montanans can be pleased with the work of this legislative body,” said Governor Bullock. “But there is still work yet to do: nearly 300 bills have yet to get to my desk, and I will be making careful decisions in the upcoming weeks to make sure our budget is balanced and we have a healthy rainy day fund for any unforeseen circumstances.”
Working with a ⅔ Republican legislature, Governor Bullock this legislative session ensured Montanans’ values and priorities were reflected in the state budget and meaningful policies, including:
- The reauthorization of Medicaid expansion;
- Continuation of the economic development tools that have helped over 15,000 small businesses expand their footprint and supported more than 12,000 jobs;
- A college tuition freeze, preventing a tax increase on 28,000 Montana students and their families;
- State-funded, need-based financial aid for students;
- Infrastructure investments to address local community needs, including finally breaking the logjam on bonding, long overdue upgrades to Romney Hall, and a new Montana Heritage Center;
- A ban on foreign governments, corporations and individuals from spending money in our state elections;
- A state reinsurance program to lower the cost of health insurance for Montanans on the individual marketplace by 10-20%;
- Holding accountable pharmacy benefit managers to help lower prescription drug prices for Montanans;
- Presumptive illness protections for firefighters;
- Legislative package, including Hanna’s Act, to address the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic;
- Funding to continue the Indian Language Preservation Program;
- Tribal flags to be put on permanent display on our State Capitol grounds;
- A $77 million increased investment in K-12 schools over the biennium; and
- The state employee pay plan.
Governor Bullock also reflected on a few missed opportunities of the legislative session, including the failure of the legislature to invest in high-quality preschool across the state.
“Preschool ought not be only for the families who can afford it. I call on our future leaders who will be in the Capitol hallways in two years to find a way to get a permanent, publicly-funded preschool program done for this state, once and for all,” said Governor Bullock.
When the legislature left, there were almost 300 bills that had passed both houses, but had not been delivered to the governor for his review and action. Over the next several weeks Governor Bullock will be carefully reviewing the bills passed by the legislature and will be making decisions to ensure the budget does not spend more than it takes in and the State has a meaningful reserve for unforeseen circumstances.