Corin Cates-Carney

Corin Cates-Carney is the Flathead Valley reporter for MTPR.

Corin has worked for NPR, and is a UM Journalism School Graduate.

Monday, Governor Steve Bullock called lawmakers back to Helena for a special legislative session. The state is facing a $200 million budget shortfall. The governor has proposed filling the budget gap with a combination of cuts to state agencies and tax increases. Veteran statehouse reporter Chuck Johnson joins MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney with insight on what to expect in the special legislative session.

Governor Steve Bullock Monday called for a special legislative session to convene later this month to balance the state's budget. Here's Bullock at a press conference Monday afternoon:

"I’m calling the Legislature back to Helena for a special session to begin with hearings convening next Monday, November 13, and for the full body to convene Tuesday the 14th at noon."

Republican leaders say they have not yet struck a deal with Governor Steve Bullock on how to solve the state's current budget crisis. While talks between the conservative legislative majority and the executive have informally created a starting point for a potential special legislative session, a complete solution has still not been reached.

The Montana Secretary of State has given supporters of a 2018 ballot initiative that would require utility companies to use much more renewable energy approval to start collecting signatures.

Initiative 184 would require public utility companies to gradually increase their use of renewable energy from the current level of 15 percent to 80 percent by 2050.

Open enrollment has started for health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But this year, Montanans hoping get insurance on ACA marketplace will have less time to sign up. The enrollment period for coverage under Affordable Care Act is 6 weeks shorter this year under the Trump administration, than in previous years. 

The governor's office says a special legislative session could be called in the coming weeks as the administration and the conservative majority party inch closer to striking a deal on a plan to balance the state budget.

State Budget Director Dan Villa called reporters into his office Wednesday for a brief update on the ongoing political tug-of-war over state spending as Montana faces a $227 million revenue shortfall.

The Montana health department is behind schedule in modernizing the state's foster care system. Officials previously said that work would be complete in October. But that didn’t happen. Now, there’s no updated timeline for when the state may upgrade its system for organizing the casework of Montana’s foster kids.

Among the issues plaguing Montana’s foster care system, struggling to keep up with rising caseloads and  high turnover in staff, is an outdated case management system.

A survey posted by Republican Senator Steve Daines asks Montanans what they believe contributes most to catastrophic wildfires: mismanagement of federal forests, or global warming.

David Parker teaches his students about scientific polling and surveying. He says this survey from Daines, and other like it from across the political spectrum, are skewed with bias. David Parker joins us now from Bozeman.

Montana is facing a state budget crisis. The state is projected to have about $200 million less than it needs to fund everything in the budget that lawmakers and the governor agreed to this year. That much is clear, but there's a lot of disagreement about why the $200 million hole is there, and what to do about it.

The budget that state lawmakers passed, and that Governor Steve Bullock signed, was based on forecasts that projected Montana's economy would generate a lot more tax revenue than it actually did. That budget is now falling apart.

But the Bullock administration continues to tout the strength of Montana's economy

Montana is facing a state budget crisis. The state is projected to have about $200 million less than it needs to fund everything in the budget that lawmakers and the governor agreed to this year. That much is clear, but there's a lot of disagreement about why the $200 million hole is there, and what to do about it.

Today and tomorrow we're going to take a look why the state budget is so far out of whack.

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