Posted: Mar 11, 2013 7:57 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Mar 12, 2013 8:57 AM
HELENA - The divide between Republicans and Democrats in the Montana Legislature was evident on Monday as lawmakers voted on the first draft of the state's budget.
The House Budget Committee voted on nearly 100 amendments to the state's budget.
Despite their lack of votes, Democrats attempted to add programs back into the budget which were previously cut.
MT State Representative Galen Hollenbaugh (D-Helena) said, "It sure has gotten off to a rocky start. At the beginning of the session they said, 'We are looking forward to getting along, we're going to work with the executive, we're going to work across the aisle.' That just vanished this morning and the partisan lines have been drawn.
Republicans held their ground and used their majority to oppose most all additions to the budget.
MT State Representative Steve Gibson (R-Helena) said, "I do think as the process goes through, you will some things come back in and you might see some things come out."
In total, House Bill 2 spends about $9 billion in federal and state money.
Democrats say there are critical programs which have been entirely cut or underfunded, such as Title X family planning money, funding for child protective services, and workforce development programs at Montana colleges.
Hollenbaugh said, "Apparently getting along means only doing what the Republicans want and placing their priorities into the budget, which is directly opposed to working with the executive and working across the aisle to see how we can move Montana forward."
Gibson said, "I had the same committee last session and really it's been a lot smoother. There has been a lot more cooperation. But there is a thought that we need to get it out of the House."
Republicans want to move the budget this week because in the next 40 days it must still pass the entire House, a Senate committee, the full Senate, and the Governor's desk.