Austin Knudsen

Recent Posts

At halfway point, legislative focus is on budget

AK

The 65th Montana legislative session has reached its halfway point, and the state budget still weighs heavy. Republicans and Democrats are working to reach a compromise on how to fund state programs, with battles over other policy happening simultaneously. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Governor touts investments, ‘constructive dialogue’

Guv

Editor’s note: This is an updated story covering the governor’s speech. Gov. Steve Bullock outlined his goals for the 2017 Legislature on Tuesday during his third State of the State address, including a responsible state budget, infrastructure, business growth and education. While addressing a joint session of the House and Senate, Bullock named common values, including, “Fiscal responsibility. Education. Infrastructure. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Budget takes center stage in Legislature’s first week

Sesso

HELENA — Montana’s 2017 Legislature has begun to tackle a wide swath of issues, from public safety to infrastructure, from education to agriculture. But as the first of many bills were read in committee rooms around the Capitol last week, it became clear that everything this time around would focus on the budget. During a Republican caucus Tuesday, House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, told fellow party members that the challenges the entire Legislature faces in the coming months would be daunting. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , ,

Montana government’s mythical spending spree

Two prominent Republican legislators published an op-ed in Wednesday’s Billings Gazette calling for an end to “irresponsible spending” in Helena. House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, and House Majority Leader Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton, say they want to be “a check on the governor’s spending and expanding government.” They also say that Montana faces a tight budget this year because of falling prices for oil and agricultural commodities and a “non-existent timber industry.”

Because of “poor management and excessive regulations,” they say, revenues are too low to meet basic costs. They don’t explain how poor management and regulations made oil and food cheaper, and they don’t explain how a nonexistent timber industry managed to bring in $296 million in labor income in Montana as recently as 2013. They do say that state government has added “well over 1,000 new state employees” in the last 12 years. Why 12 years? Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Only thing worse than Obamacare is … what?

DC

The most important issue before Montana legislators this session isn’t really even on the agenda. And it’s not their fault.

The fate of health insurance for millions of Americans, and for tens of thousands of Montanans, rests in the hands of a Congress dominated by Republicans, who have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as one of their first items of business when Donald Trump takes over as president. The GOP also has vowed to replace Obamacare, but that could take years. In the meantime, uncertainty could damage or even destroy insurance companies, and millions of people could lose insurance. This has left Montana lawmakers in a quandary. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , ,

Backers of local option tax pin hopes on 2015 Legislature

tax

It’s awfully early in the 2015 Montana legislative session to be optimistic about anything, but Jani McCall thinks this might just be the year lawmakers finally authorize cities and towns to pursue local sales taxes. “I think it’s going to be a tough haul,” McCall said, “but I think if there was ever an opportunity to do it, this will be the session to do it.” (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

School choice advocates gaining influence, financing

House

Much has already been made of the news that the Montana House Education Committee will be led during the 2015 legislative session by two prominent supporters of school choice and charter schools. But since Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is likely to veto any attempts to bring school choice to Montana, it’s the long game that is more interesting, and in that sense backers of school choice seem positioned to prevail someday soon. (more…) Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,