Governor Steve Bullock

HELENA – The Bullock administration has asked state agencies to identify an additional 5 percent in budget cuts, MTN News has learned.

Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget office asked agencies to submit proposed cuts by last Friday. State law allows the governor to cut state-agency budgets up to 10 percent, if tax revenue falls below a certain point.

The governor’s office did not respond Tuesday to inquiries from MTN News about the proposed cuts or what actions are planned by the administration.

Any cuts apparently would be on top of $70 million in state budget reductions already in motion for the next two years, triggered when a June 30 tax revenue target wasn’t met.

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Those cuts, approved by the 2017 Legislature and announced last month, include a $13 million across-the-board cut for most state agencies, at least $11 million in cuts to mental-health and other health programs that serve the poor and disabled, $12 million in delayed payments to public schools and 16 percent reductions for the State Library and state Historical Society.

While the governor can cut state-agency budgets up to 10 percent, to keep the overall state budget in balance, he or she cannot direct cuts in the legislative or judicial branches of governor, or state “base” funding for public schools.

Any cuts beyond the 10 percent level would require approval by the Legislature, in a special session.

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MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.