Montana Legislature passes “cash” infrastructure bill

Posted at 2:58 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 18:47:52-04

HELENA – The bill that spends $165 million in state money over the next two years to build and maintain state-owned buildings passed its final vote in the House 65-35 Wednesday.

House Bill 5, sponsored by Rep. Jim Keane (D-Butte) uses a special account that mixes funding from taxes on coal, cigarette tax revenue and general fund dollars.

“Many call it the “cash bill,” because that’s what we are doing. We’re using coal trust money to finish projects and to complete projects that are already on-going,” Keane said.

The bill has already passed both the House and the Senate but needed to go back to the House to adopt a few changes the Senate made, like funding the renovation of MSU’s Romney Hall if another infrastructure bill, which uses about $80 million in borrowed funds, fails to pass.

That bill, House Bill 652, is also known as “the bonding bill” and was scheduled for a debate in the Senate earlier this week, but was postponed.

The Legislature is still debating other big bills, including the state budget and continuing Medicaid expansion.

-Tim Pierce reporting for the UM Legislative News Service

Tim Pierce is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Greater Montana Foundation and the Montana Newspaper Association.