Call Fails For Montana Special Session On Budget Surplus

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An effort by some Republicans to call a special session of the Montana Legislature to discuss returning excess tax revenue to residents failed, the Secretary of State's Office said Thursday.

Fifty-three lawmakers supported the call, short of the 76 votes needed by Wednesday's deadline. Special sessions can be called if more than half of the 150-member Legislature supports it. There are currently 100 Republicans in the legislature.

Ten Republicans — including Senate Majority Leader Cary Smith and House Majority Leader Sue Vinton — proposed the special session because the state expects a $1.5 billion budget surplus.

The lawmakers proposed rebating up to $1,000 to resident homeowners who paid property taxes in the past two years and up to $1,250 to people who paid income taxes during that time, in an effort to help residents with the high cost of gas and groceries. They also proposed making a $100 million payment to reduce state bond debt.

Some Republicans opposed a special session, saying lawmakers should wait until the Legislature convenes in January to give more thoughtful consideration about what to do with the surplus.

In July, Democratic leaders had said they would propose legislation in 2023 to spend the surplus on affordable housing, mental health services, childcare and property tax reductions.

More than 30 states have enacted some type of tax cut or rebate this year due to budget surpluses.