Last Monday, May 6, Gov. Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 175 into law, completing the work of its sponsor, Sen. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, and the many school board trustees, administrators, teachers, school business officials, parents and business owners throughout Montana who provided significant input to its creation and passage. This new school funding law is a major achievement and dramatically improves K-12 public school funding; creates opportunities to advance academic achievement and accountability; increases local control over decisions affecting schools; helps address impacts in oil and gas districts; helps promote the best use of state land resources for the benefit of schools; and provides much-needed relief for property taxpayers.
The Montana School Boards Association, MEA-MFT, School Administrators of Montana, Montana Rural Education Association, Montana Quality Education Coalition and Montana Association of School Business Officials would like to thank Gov. Bullock for signing SB 175 into law and Sen. Jones for his dedication to this important issue as he traveled all over Montana for the past two and a half years getting input on the bill, drafting it and expertly navigating its way through the legislative process. The bill might not have passed were it not for the significant help provided by many key legislators and Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, who provided valuable input on the bill and helped legislators understand its components. Jim Standaert of the Montana Legislative Fiscal Division also deserves special recognition for his expert analyses of the bill’s fiscal impact as it moved through the process.
This bill — more than any other school funding measure we have seen — was truly a community effort. Gov. Bullock, Sen. Jones and the Montana Legislature demonstrated it is possible to create a bill with input from key stakeholders throughout the state and work in a bipartisan manner to ensure its passage. Montana’s public education community is grateful for their efforts.
Lance Melton, MTSBA
Eric Feaver, MEA-MFT
Kirk Miller, SAM
Dave Puyear, MREA
Mark Lambrecht, MQEC
Denise Ulberg, MASBO