Bullock has been a big proponent of infrastructure spending — roads, bridges, water and sewer lines — in urban and rural areas in his state, including a new $290 million program he’s pushing legislators to approve. It would be funded by a mix of cash and new bonds.
In previous sessions of the legislature, Republicans have turned down infrastructure plans by the governor. Still, the new proposal by and large appears to have more support. It includes infrastructure grants for areas experiencing different impacts from coal, oil, or gas development.
Meantime, Montana’s economy remains strong, and the state unemployment rate recently dipped below the national rate. Yet some Republicans and business leaders in the state are critical of Bullock’s leadership, and claim things could be even better if the governor didn’t stand in the way of mining projects that could bring jobs and millions of dollars in new revenues.
“He proposes to spend more money on daycare, more money on Medicaid, and more money on infrastructure but there are no real proposals to grow our economy and grow the money base,” said Republican state Sen. Fred Thomas, Majority Leader of the Montana Senate. “He just wants to raise taxes.”