When the Legislature first convened back in January, the budget proposed by the governor was not balanced and would have spent more than the state is projected to take in. Raiding our savings account to increase the size of government is not a responsible course of action when Montana's economy has just begun to shift out of neutral. Put simply, state government needs to tighten its belt, just like Montana families are doing.
Unfortunately, House Democrats failed to get the message and have continued to pursue a tax-and-spend agenda that our state simply cannot afford. Rather than support the lean budget proposed by the Appropriations Committee, which I am on, Democrats chose instead to try and increase government spending. In fact, when House Bill 2 came to the floor for full debate, the minority attempted to add more than $200 million to the budget in additional spending. Working together, Republicans were able to prevent these amendments from passing.
I voted for amendments that would have further reduced government spending by $122,716,859. As a whole, Republicans managed to find and pass $33 million in additional savings during floor debate. In the end, the budget that overwhelmingly passed the House is more than $136 million below the governor's proposal and 6 percent less than the one that passed in 2009.
For the first time, the budget is not only balanced; but is structurally balanced. The bill will now be sent to the Senate where Republicans will continue to look for ways to make government more efficient and effective. There is still much work to be done and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on ways to make state government more accountable to taxpayers.