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House passes state budget over Democratic ‘bad bill’ cries

Rep. Bryce Bennett

By Freddy Monares/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – The state budget bill, which governs state agency spending for the next two years, passed out of the Montana House of Representatives Friday on a 58-to-40 vote.

House Bill 2, distributing more than $10 billion over the biennium, has been the most contentious bill in the legislative session thus far.

Democrats offered 25 amendments during a debate Thursday, all of which were shot down mostly on party lines.

Rep. Nancy Ballance

Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance of Hamilton is the sponsor of the budget bill.

“On your desk is a packet of amendments totaling over $200 million in additional spending in no priority order that I can see, that will completely blow up this budget,” Ballance said Thursday.

Democratic Rep. Bryce Bennett of Missoula opposed the bill.

“It’s a bad bill for working people, working families. It’s a bad bill for people who are struggling, and it’s a bad bill for Montana,” Bennett said.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Freddy Monares 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.