Steve Bullock

Bullock fails to deliver infrastructure bill

Helena – For the third consecutive legislative session, Democrat Governor Steve Bullock has failed to get an infrastructure bill passed by the Legislature.

In the waning days of the 2017 legislative session, there seemed to still be a chance for the infrastructure package to pass, but in the end, it came down to a simple divide: Mr. Bullock wanted to spend more; Republicans in control of the House wanted to spend less.

A similar scenario occurred in 2015 when Mr. Bullock rejected several Republican proposals because they did not spend enough and did not fund particular pet projects. The final result was no infrastructure package passed in 2015.

This year, House Republicans proposed $33 million in bonding for infrastructure projects, a proposal rejected by Democrats in the Legislature and Mr. Bullock.

Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso, R-Butte, and House Minority Leader Jenny Eck, D-Helena, said the Democrats would not support House Bill 645 because it does not include particular projects they want funded. Those projects include renovating Romney Hall at Montana State University-Bozeman, a new veterans’ home in Butte, and building projects at MSU-Billings and Great Falls College of Technology.

A compromise in the House Appropriations Committee more than doubled the original proposal to $78 million in bonds.  That proposal was unable to garner the 67 votes needed to pass the House.

Negotiations in the final days of the 65th legislative session failed to produce a solution as Mr. Bullock refused to give up $25 million to remodel Romney Hall at the MSU-Billings campus and Republicans were unwilling to pass an $80-million debt proposal.

By: Big Sky Headlines Staff