HELENA – U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte visited a job training facility in Helena Friday, to talk about workforce development and tax reform.

Gianforte toured the Montana Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Center, supported by local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association. The center offers an apprenticeship program that allows young people who want to pursue careers as electricians to earn a salary while learning the skills they need.

JATC leaders told Gianforte 95 percent of their apprentices complete the training program. They said there is strong demand for the program, so they are able to be selective.

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Gianforte also talked to local contractors about how they were affected by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, congressional Republicans’ comprehensive tax reform bill. Several told him their employees have already noticed larger paychecks since the reform took effect in January.

Gianforte said he has heard of several small businesses in Montana, from an insurance brokerage in Harlem to a grocery store in St. Ignatius, that have raised wages or hired new employees in reaction to the bill.

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is helping all people across the country,” he said.

Gianforte was back in Montana just hours after he voted in Washington, D.C., against a major budget agreement to reopen the federal government after a brief shutdown early Friday. He said he had supported an earlier version of the proposal because it increased military funding and extended support for community health centers. However, he said the final version approved by the Senate included almost $300 million in additional spending.

“We have a spending problem, and as a business guy, I know that when you’re in a hole and you want to balance the budget, the first thing you need to do is stop digging,” said Gianforte.

The budget agreement passed Congress early Friday morning and was signed by President Donald Trump. Gianforte was one of 67 House Republicans to vote against it. Sen. Steve Daines was among 16 Republicans in the Senate who rejected it. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester backed the deal.