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Montana Legislature passes school repair funding bill

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – The 65th Montana Legislature adjourned Friday after voting down several controversial bills.

But before that, it did give final approval to legislation that would create a special state fund for major public school repairs.

Rep. Rob Cook

Senate Bill 307 would, among other things, allow school districts to temporarily raise property taxes — without putting it on a ballot — in order to meet a state match for these repairs.

The bill had already passed the Legislature, but the governor returned it to the House with a different reporting date.

“It’s a good way to get local participation in this quality schools program,” said Rep. Rob Cook, R-Conrad during the House discussion on Thursday.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Hertz, R-Polson, opposed the bill and said voters should decide what they pay taxes on.

The House voted to pass the original bill by a wide margin, and the Senate passed it unanimously. The House voted 78-21 on the final version of the bill.

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.