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Bullock admin asks state agencies to ID additional 5 percent in budget cuts

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Gov. Steve Bullock Gov. Steve Bullock
HELENA -

The Bullock administration has asked state agencies to identify an additional 5 percent in potential budget cuts, MTN News has learned.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget office asked agencies to submit proposed cuts by last Friday.

Bullock's office confirmed late Tuesday that it asked for the proposals, as part of a budget-planning process allowed by law.

"The administration is ensuring it is ready to responsibly manage the budget as it was handed to us by the Legislature," said spokeswoman Ronja Abel. "This includes identifying additional savings and efficiencies at all agencies, in the event revenues are lower than expected."

State law allows the governor to cut state-agency budgets up to 10 percent, if tax revenue falls below a certain point. However, the governor's office said the request is under authority of a law that says the governor's budget director can ask agencies with more than 20 full-time employees to submit plans to operate on 95 percent of their budget. 

If the cuts are enacted, they apparently would be on top of $70 million in state budget reductions already in motion for the next two years, triggered when a June 30 tax revenue target wasn’t met.   

Those cuts, approved by the 2017 Legislature and announced last month, include a $13 million across-the-board cut for most state agencies, at least $11 million in cuts to mental-health and other health programs that serve the poor and disabled, $12 million in delayed payments to public schools and 16 percent reductions for the State Library and state Historical Society.

While the governor can cut state-agency budgets up to 10 percent, to keep the overall state budget in balance, he or she cannot direct cuts in the legislative or judicial branches of governor, or state “base” funding for public schools.

Any cuts beyond the 10 percent level would require approval by the Legislature, in a special session.

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