Posted: Jan 3, 2013 5:38 PM by Marnee Banks
The Legislative Fiscal Division has released a report outlining the biggest financial issues facing the Montana Legislature during the 2013 session.
Based on historical data, legislators will consider somewhere around 2,000 bills this session. But their only statutory obligation is to pass a balanced budget. State legislators will be wrestling with a $10 billion budget and it's very likely the fiscal issues outlined in this report will be highly debated.
The report lists eight major fiscal issues, MTN is highlighting the first five.
1. Montana's pension system
The pension plans for state workers are facing an annual shortfall of $112 million. It's single handily the biggest liability on the state's balance sheet.
2. State Pay Plan
State employees haven't gotten a pay increase in four years and so this session lawmakers will have to decide what to do. Governor Brian Schweitzer's (D-MT) proposal includes raises and would cost $152 million.
3. Medical provider rates
Doctors serving Medicaid patients haven't seen an increase in how much they are paid by the state in several years. Meanwhile costs to serve those patients continue to rise.
4. Federal healthcare reform
Montana has a choice whether or not it wants to expand Medicaid to include more Montanans. The price tag to expand it is $5 million this budget cycle.
5. Federal fiscal cliff
Congress didn't address any major budget cuts with its most recent "fiscal cliff" negotiation. So right in the middle of Montana's legislative session Congress will likely be cutting the budget. For every $10 the state has to operate $4 of it comes from the federal government. Therefore, if Congress cuts back, Montana could see less money come in.
Click here to read the full report: http://leg.mt.gov/fbp.asp
The Legislative Fiscal Division is a non-partisan office charged with looking at the numbers and providing data to lawmakers.