Republican leaders: Bullock has authority to cut budget

HELENA (AP) — Republican legislative leaders say Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has all the authority he needs to cut the state budget to address an expected revenue shortfall and they aren’t interested in a special session to make cuts or raise taxes.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen said Wednesday he believes cuts to services for Montana’s most vulnerable residents were recommended intentionally to force the legislature’s involvement. Leaders argue there’s room for cuts in the bureaucracy that won’t hurt services.

The governor’s budget director is forecasting revenues will be $227 million less than needed to balance the budget through mid-2019.

State law gives Bullock the authority to cut up to 10 percent of general fund spending. The departments of health, corrections and education receive 85 percent of the general fund appropriations, meaning those agencies would absorb the largest cuts.

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