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The Latest: GOP legislative leaders reject tax increase plan

November 15, 2018

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Latest on Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget proposal (all times local):

2:50 p.m.

Republican legislative leaders are rejecting a proposal by Montana Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock to raise taxes on tobacco, liquor, rental cars and hotel rooms to help pay for state programs.

Senate President Scott Sales of Bozeman and Majority Leader Fred Thomas of Stevensville say there’s enough money coming into state coffers to take care of government needs without raising taxes.

Republicans also pushed back against continuing Medicaid expansion, saying there are concerns that some people are unfairly taking advantage of the program.

Voters just rejected an initiative that would have increased tobacco taxes to help pay for Medicaid expansion and Thomas says proposing both the expansion and the tax is “ignoring the public vote.”

The lawmakers spoke Thursday in response to the governor’s proposed two-year, $10.3 billion budget.

The 2019 Legislature convenes its 90-day session on Jan. 7.

1 p.m.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is proposing a two-year, $10.3 billion budget that includes the re-authorization of a health insurance program for about 96,000 low-income residents.

The Democratic governor’s plan released Thursday calls for raising an additional $50 million a year through tax increases on hotel rooms, rental cars, tobacco and liquor and increasing a fee charged to investment advisers.

Similar proposed hikes were rejected by the tax-averse Republican-led Legislature during a November 2017 special legislative session.

The governor wants to use state treasury funds to pay for continuing the Medicaid expansion program, which insures 96,000 low-income residents and is scheduled to expire next year.

Bullock’s budget would spend $30 million on early childhood education, freeze university system tuition and spend $292 million on infrastructure projects.

This is Bullock’s final budget proposal before his second term ends in 2021.

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