Montana state budget (2009-2010)

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FY2010 State Budget

See also: Archived Montana state budgets

Montana ended FY 2009 on June 30, 2009 with a surplus of $369.1 million, an enviable position compared to most other states, but expected a drop in revenues over the FY 2010 and FY 2011 biennium. Stronger than anticipated individual, corporation, and oil and gas production tax collections led to an ending fund balance three times higher than predicted in 2007, but then estimated a -5.2% drop in revenues over the 2011 biennium. The biennial budget passed by the Montana State Legislature and signed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer estimated General Fund revenue for FY 2010 and FY 2011 would total $3.6 billion (2008 & 2009 was $3.8 billion). Along with the $369.1 million surplus, it provided $4 billion with $3.7 billion in appropriations, leaving an estimated ending fund balance on June 30, 2011 of $282.4 million.[1]

Budget background

See also: Montana state budget and finances

Montana operates on a biennium budget. The biennium included a 24-month period from July 1st of odd-numbered years to June 30th of odd-numbered years, such as the 2009-11 biennium, which ran from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011. According to state law, the Governor was required to submit a budget recommendation to the Legislature by November 15 on even numbered years.[2] The state Constitution gives sole authority to the Legislature to appropriate state funds. The House and the Senate review the recommended budget along with any requests made beginning January of the next fiscal year and additional revenue forecasts.[3][4]

Budget figures

The following table provided a history of Montana's expenditures and gross domestic product (GDP).

Fiscal Year Expenditures (billions) GDP (billions)
2000 $5.0[5] $21.4[5]
2001 $5.3[5] $22.5[5]
2002 $5.6[5] $23.6[5]
2003 $5.9[5] $25.5[5]
2004 $6.2[5] $27.5[5]
2005 $6.4[5] $30.0[5]
2006 $6.9[5] $32.0[5]
2007 $7.5[5] $34.3[5]
2008 $8.2[5] $36.7[5]
2009 $8.8*[5] $39.3*[5]
  • NOTE: The figures for FY 2009 were not finalized.

$3.7 Billion General Fund Spending included:[6]

  • Public Education 34.7%, $1.28 billion
  • Human Services 19%, $704 million
  • Corrections 9.2%, $340 million
  • Higher Education 8.1%, $300 million

$10.7 Billion Total Fund Spending included:[7]

  • Human Services 29.7%, $3.2 billion
  • Public Education 15%, $1.6 billion

2008-2009 budget crisis

See also: Montana state budget (2008-2009)

Accounting principles

See also: Montana government accounting principles

Tori M. Hunthausen was the Montana Legislative Auditor. The responsibility of the Legislative Audit Division was to conduct financial and compliance, performance, and information system audits of state agencies or their programs, including the university system. Their audit reports were published online. The Legislative Auditor was solely responsible to the Legislative Assembly and was appointed by and operates primarily through the Legislative Audit Committee. The term of office was for two years beginning July 1 of each even numbered year.[8] [9]

The Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) rates Montana “Timely” in filing the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) – The annual report of state and local governmental entities. IFTA rated 22 states timely, 22 states tardy, and 6 states as worst. IFTA did not consider Montana's CAFRs, and those of the other states, to be accurate representations of the state’s financial condition because the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) basis did not included significant liabilities for the pension plans and for other post employment benefits, such as health care.[10] Montana's CAFRs were published online by the Department of Administration, State Accounting Division, State Accounting Bureau. Mr. Paul Christofferson was Administrator of the Montana State Accounting Division. The Accounting Bureau was responsible for the preparation of the CAFR and auditing all local government entities.[11] [12]

Credit Rating Fitch Moody's S&P
Montana[13] AA Aa2 AA

Budget transparency

Montana had no statewide, official spending database online. On January 17, 2009, Montana Senator Joe Balyeat of Bozeman introduced SB 241, the "Taxpayer Right to Know Act." This bill would have created a searchable Website that, among other things, would have listed information about the state's budget. Data would have come from executive, legislative, and judicial agencies, and would have included appropriations, expenditures, and revenue sources. However, SB 241 died in committee,[14] as did HJ 43.[15] House Joint Resolution 43 would have mandated that Montana's Legislative Finance Committee evaluate what would be necessary to put a state spending site online. Both bills died in committee during the spring of 2009.[16]

Government tools

The following table evaluates the level of transparency provided by a state spending and transparency database:

Criteria for evaluating spending databases
State Database Searchability Grants Contracts Line Item Expenditures Dept/Agency Budgets Public Employee Salary
None n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
See also: Evaluation of Montana state website

Independent transparency sites

The Montana Policy Institute launched a website dedicated to bringing transparency to Montana. MPI had also launched a site dedicated to education transparency, a site which "contains district level revenue and spending data in an easy to use format. Users could compare up to five districts to each other and to state averages across several meaningful criteria. Users can also see revenue and spending trends for each district, along with a review of the ease of access in attaining the relevant information from each district."[17][18][19]

Public employee salary information

See also: Montana state government salary

Economic stimulus transparency

Montana would receive approximately $70 million from the federal government under HB 1586, a $26 billion plan to give states money for Medicaid and education that the President signed into law on August 10, 2010.[20][21]

The Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 designated $787 billion to be spent throughout the U.S. Of that $787 billion stimulus package, it was estimated that 69%, or over $541 billion, would be administered by state governments.[22] Montana would receive an estimated $603,398,241[23]

Two Montana project were noted in Senator Coburn and Senator McCain's "Summertime Blues, 100 stimulus projects that give taxpayers the blues" report. The two projects included Helena’s use of $18,500 to paint a mural on a band shell and Montana State University spending $141,002 to send nine students on a six-week trip to China to study dinosaur fossils.[24]

  • Montana established an economic recovery website to show how legislators and government officials in Montana were spending Federal funds.[25]

See also

External links

Additional reading


  1. Montana Legislative Fiscal Division, "2011 Biennium Budget Overview," June 2009
  2. National Association of Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States," 2008 (dead link)
  3. State of Montana, "TIMETABLE FOR 2011 BIENNIUM EXECUTIVE BUDGET AND 2009 BIENNIUM ACTIONS," January 15,2009 (dead link)
  4. Montana Legislature, "STATE OF MONTANA BUDGET PROCESS," December 7,2007
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 US Government Spending, "Montana State and Local spending," accessed March 24,2009
  6. Montana Legislative Fiscal Division, "2011 Biennium Budget Overview," June 2009
  7. Montana Legislative Fiscal Division, "2011 Biennium Budget Overview," June 2009
  8. Legislative Audit Division Web site, accessed October 30, 2009
  9. audit reports
  10. Institute for Truth in Accounting, “The Truth About Balanced Budgets—A Fifty State Study,” Page 35
  11. Department of Administration, State Accounting Division, State Accounting Bureau Web site, accessed October 30, 2009
  12. CAFRs
  13. State of Indiana, “State Credit Ratings-as of June 24, 2009"
  14. Bill Status, Senate Bill 241, "Taxpayer Right to Know Act"
  15. Bill Status, House Join Resolution 43
  16. SB 241
  17. Montana Policy Institute
  18. Big Sky Search
  19. Schools Open Montana (timed out)
  20. Federal Fund Information for States “ARRA FMAP Extension & Education Jobs Fund Totals” Aug. 11, 2010
  21. H.R. 1586]
  22. National Taxpayers Union, "A Letter to the Nation's Governors: Ensure Transparency and Accountability by Posting Stimulus Expenditures Online," March 10, 2009
  23. Wall Street Journal, "Stimulus Spending by State," March 12,2009
  24. Montana Watchdog, Senators criticize 2 Montana projects for using stimulus funds, Aug. 3, 2010
  25. Recovery Montana