Democrats’ infrastructure bill gets 1st hearing in House

Work is underway to reconstruct Missoula’s Madison Street Bridge. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – Both Republicans and Democrats have prioritized infrastructure for the 2017 legislative session, but they disagree on how to approach it.

Democrats would like to use bonding, or borrowing, to help pay for projects. But some Republicans have been reluctant to support that.

The Democrats’ big bill, which addresses projects like water system improvements, got its first hearing Friday.

Tim Burton with the League of Montana City and Towns supports House Bill 14.

“Our grandparents helped build the infrastructure that we’re using today, and most of that was funded through bonding,” Burton said.

Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance of Hamilton would like to see the bill broken up into separate ones.

“It’s everything rolled up into one all-or-nothing bill that isn’t necessarily, it’s not something that everyone can accept,” Ballance said. 

Democratic Rep. Jim Keane of Butte is carrying HB 14.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.