By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA - It’s been a long and arduous journey, but the $10.3 billion Montana state budget is now on its way to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s desk.

Friday, the Republican-majority House of Representatives passed Senate amendments to the budget 58-41.

Republican Representative Nancy Ballance of Hamilton chairs the House Appropriations Committee, and is sponsoring House Bill 2. She said the budget cuts as deeply as it could without impacting essential services like education, health care and corrections.

“Now some say we didn’t spend enough, others are saying we didn’t cut enough,” Ballance said.

Bullock says he thinks there have been constructive conversations between both Democrats and Republicans about how to make a budget that funds essential services, doesn’t spend more than it brings in, “and leaves me with a degree of flexibility so I’m not picking up the pieces and calling them back into session."

Bullock now has 10 days to review the bill. Just like any other, if he doesn’t sign or veto the bill in that time, then it automatically becomes law.

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.