On the heels of a particularly difficult legislative session marked by deep budget cuts, the last thing Montanans need right now is another reduction to critical state programs and services.
But unless state tax collections pick up by the time the fiscal year ends July 1, that’s exactly what will happen.
A recent report from the Legislative Fiscal Division shows state tax collections were 3.8 percent lower than legislators predicted when they built the two-year budget. Low individual income tax collections are blamed for most of the decrease.
A bill passed this legislative session will require the state to make up for a tax revenue shortfall by making cuts to certain programs and services, starting with the fire fund. The Montana Historical Society Research Center, tourism and agriculture marketing, library programs and the Native language preservation could also see budget reductions if certain triggers are reached.
With the legislative session still fresh in their memories, cuts like these would not be easy for Montanans to stomach. And we hope it doesn’t come to that when the final revenue report comes in later this summer.
It’s always great to see credit given where it is due, and National Geographic Magazine has awarded Helena some well-deserved recognition for its world-class mountain bike trails.
The National Geographic article on “America’s 20 Best Mountain Bike Towns” praised Helena’s 75-plus miles of singletrack from 20 different trailheads, as well as its free shuttle bus, culture and craft beer. The author told the Independent Record she was also impressed by the easy access to trails from town, proximity to the Continental Divide Trail and vibrant cycling scene in our community.
In addition, Helena’s bike trails have been ranked silver-level by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and are often mentioned in other biking magazines and websites.
And that is due in large part to the tireless work of the groups working to preserve and protect natural land in and around town, such as the Prickly Pear Land Trust and the city of Helena.
This article reminded us of how lucky we are to live somewhere people will cross the country to visit, and that’s not something we take for granted.