By Martin Kidston
Gov. Steve Bullock began his second term in office on Monday, continuing the Montana Democratic Party’s 12-year hold on the office.
Bullock, the state’s 24th governor, took the oath from Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike McGrath and set his sights on the 2017 legislative session, which begins this week.
“At the end of the day, we all want many of the same things,” Bullock said. “We want a good-paying job to support our families. We want our sons and daughters to be treated fairly and get a good education.”
Republicans hold the majority in both the Montana House and Senate, though Bullock said the state can show that the political process can work through partisanship.
While the state budget is expected to dominate much of the session, Bullock looks to strengthen the middle class, protect access to public lands and invest in education, including pre-Kindergarten.
“We want to enjoy our public lands, and we want to feel and be safe in our communities,” Bullock said. “And we want a better future for our kids and our grand kids.”
Bullock unveiled his proposed two-year budget in mid-November, one that includes expanded tax credits for new businesses and a $292 million infrastructure plan.
He also proposes some new taxes, including a 1 percent tax increase on those earning more than $500,000 and a small increase on medical marijuana dispensers.
Bullock defeated Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte in November, securing 50.2 percent of the vote.