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MONTANA

Montana

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.recovery.mt.gov

Montana's state Recovery Act website scored 25 out of 100 possible points (ranking a tied 23rd) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. The state earned an average amount of points by disclosing ARRA funding on a county-by-county basis.  However, the state fails to report allocations compared to economic need or report job creation statistics. Contractor information: none.

Montana scored fewer points-20 out of 100 (ranking a tied 43rd)-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  The state's only points in this category were earned for mapping and describing highway projects. Contractor information: none.

For detailed scoring information, see the Montana appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

Coordination & Oversight

According to the governor's office, there is no "Recovery Czar." Gov. Schweitzer has given control over the distribution of $600 million in discretionary stimulus funds to the state legislature. The governor is in charge of distributing the $300 million for programs dictated by the federal government.

David Ewer, the state Budget Director, will be the point person in the governor's office. Ewer previously served as Deputy Director of the Montana Board of Investments, spent eight years in the state House of Representatives, and held various positions with the InterFirst Bank of Dallas.

House Bill 645, which will determine how the $600 million is spent, has passed the legislature. The bill contains the appropriations for the stimulus funds in Montana, as well as statute changes necessary for the state to accept unemployment insurance funds.

Policy Debates

Gov. Schweitzer, a Democrat, vetoed Senate Bill 460, a Republican-led effort to create a Federal Economic Stimulus Oversight Commission within the legislature. The Commission would have been composed of 10 members, 5 from the Senate and 5 from the House, and assigned specific duties related to implementation of the ARRA in Montana. "I believe the creation of a new commission is unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer money," Schweitzer said.

Republican legislators also pushed for deeper state budget cuts, preparing to replace those funds with stimulus money. "Fortunately we have...federal stimulus money which in essence can backfill many of the cuts that we made," said Republican Sen. Keith Bales, chairman of the Senate finance committee. The final state budget does use stimulus funds to backfill education, infrastructure, and state government funds.

A provision in the stimulus act for projects to use U.S.-made materials is reportedly creating problems for some "shovel-ready" projects in the state. The governor contacted the White House to raise the issue.

Gov. Schweitzer wants to use stimulus funds to freeze college tuition for two years, but some university officials said this might have a negative impact on services and ultimately lead to larger classes and fewer course options.

Last updated on: 14 October, 2009

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