BILLINGS — Gov. Steve Bullock proposed a $45 million grant program Thursday to ease strains on water and sewer systems in eastern Montana towns that have struggled to keep pace with the demands of the fast-growing Bakken oil patch.
The proposal needs approval from the 2015 Legislature. It would be paid for with state bonds — an aspect that's likely to run into opposition from some lawmakers.
The Democratic governor last year vetoed a broader, Republican-sponsored measure that would have set aside money from mineral revenues to pay for water, sewer and road projects in the Bakken.
Bullock said Thursday the veto was needed to balance the budget. But he agrees with the Legislature on the need to respond to the changes underway in the Bakken.
"Soaring prices, inadequate resources and a massive influx of new residents is vexing local governments like never before," Bullock said in a statement. "Some of these challenges can be handled at the local level, but many of them require help and resources from the state."