Posted: Mar 28, 2013 1:23 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - The Montana House of Representatives has passed several key pieces of legislation just in time for a critical deadline.
On Wednesday, lawmakers gave the nod to two bills that attempt to shore up the state's pension system, which is facing a $4 billion funding shortage. House Bills 377 and 454 both keep the state's current defined benefit plan while lowering benefits, requiring employees and employers to increase their contributions and using coal tax money to help strengthen the system.
Lawmakers also passed House Bill 13, the state pay plan, giving some state workers a pay increase. The bill appropriates $62 million in state money for the raises. The state and the unions previously negotiated 5% annual raises for all state workers in 2014 and 2015. However, Republicans amended the bill so only employees who haven't had raises in four years will get a pay increase. These raises are to be handed out by the Executive Branch.
Legislators also passed Gov. Steve Bullock's (D- MT) JOBS bill. House Bill 5 contains cash funding for the construction of nine state buildings across Montana. Seven of them are on university and college campuses. Originally, the Governor proposed to sell state bonds to pay for the projects. However, Republicans agreed to fund the projects if the state used cash from the general fund.
All of these bills now head to the Senate as lawmakers head home for a four-day Easter weekend.