Citizens shocked, upset over budget bill's passing


Citizens shocked, upset over budget bill's unanimous passing 3-19-13

BOZEMAN, Mont. - To the surprise of many, all 100 members of the house seemed to be on the same page- even breaking out into applause as they passed the bill.

But not everything is hunky dory. There are still some issues to iron out, and the budget has some locals concerned.

When Bozeman residents Caleigh Searle and Katy Mistretta heard about the budget bill passing, they weren't too happy.

"Very surprised. Very disappointed" Searle said. "Shocked, disappointed" Mistretta echoed.

They aren't on board with the unanimous agreement because it'll mean cuts to programs like family planning.

"I think it's crazy. I think it's going to cause more problems" Searle said.

The budget bill is usually the center of controversy and disagreement, and doesn't get passed without long fights and dozens of proposed amendments.

But on Tuesday, both sides fully endorsed the $9 million budget as-is. No disagreement, no negotiations.

"This was done in a matter of hours" said Republican Appropriations Chairman Duane Ankney. "We all agreed that the budget was a good budget."

Democratic Vice Chair Galen Hollenbaugh agreed- for the most part. "The budget in total is very good" he said. "It could be better, and we will continue to try and make it better as this budget process goes along."

There are still some issues. Many aren't happy with the $4.6 million in cuts to the federal Title X Family Planning Program.

Hollenbaugh said they'll fight to put that back in the budget.

"We will carry that issue and that fight over to the Senate as they begin to work on this budget now" he said.

Residents like Searle and Mistretta said they hope that gets worked out.

"I think family planning is just, it's a huge prevention and it needs to be supported" Mistretta said.

But others like Belgrade resident Jeremy Annis said they don't think that belongs in the budget. "We can probably use those funds in other places first" he said.

Now that the budget bill has passed the House, it'll head to the Senate- where it's uncertain if it'll get the same unanimous approval, or if lawmakers will start pushing for amendments.

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