HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ A bill making English the official language of government in Montana was signed into law Saturday by Gov. Marc Racicot.

Racicot, a Republican, issued a two-page explanation of why he approved the measure, which has been criticized by opponents as racist.

``This measure sets English as the official and primary language of Montana state and local governments, their employees and documents,'' Racicot said. ``That's it.''

The bill, modeled after laws in 19 states, does not make English the official language of Montana and does not limit the use of other languages by anyone, Racicot said.

Supporters said the law would protect the state against having to print ballots in more than one language or make other arrangements that could burden government.