Posted: Jan 11, 2013 8:55 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - State lawmakers are beginning to debate how much money the Montana Legislature has to spend for the next two years.
The House and Senate Taxation Committees met Thursday morning to start the discussion.
The revenue estimate has historically been a political football with each party using it to its advantage, and during the 2011 session, the revenue estimate didn't pass, causing consternation among lawmakers.
State Senator Bruce Tutvedt (R - Kalispell) is carrying the bill this session and says the rules have been changed to mandate its passage out of the Senate.
"Any rumors that this revenue estimate isn't coming out of Senate Tax are just wrong. We are going to honor our commitment and send it," Tutvedt testified. "We all know in the past that there has been ways where it's held up in the House, and sat in House Tax or went back to the Senate and the Senate never gave it back. So, this has been a football and there is plenty of blame, but let's just fix it."
The Legislative Fiscal Division and the Governor's Budget Office have both drafted revenue estimates.
According to reports dated November 2012, the Legislature's Fiscal Division office predicts the state will have $6.157 billion dollars in revenue for fiscal years 2013 through 2015. The Governor's Budget Office forecasts the revenue for that same period will come in a little lower at $6.154 billion.
These numbers will be updated over the next week and then the Senate Taxation Committee will vote on the revenue estimate bill next Friday.