Governor seeking proposals for budget cuts
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Gov. Brian Schweitzer is asking state agency directors to prepare contingency plans for cuts of up to 5 percent by the end of the month because the state government budget is getting tight. He also told them Friday that they may have to reduce baseline spending for the next two-year budget period that starts in 2011. The governor has issued several notices of relatively small cuts in recent weeks. But the potentially biggest will come now that projected budget reserves are now essentially gone — giving him broad authority to start cutting spending up to 10 percent. Funding for the legislative and judicial branches, school funding, payments on state debt and salaries for elected officials are Exempt from cuts. Also Friday, Schweitzer decided that $2 million earmarked for wildfire equipment and projects will instead be saved. The Department of Natural Resources says it can still provide adequate fire coverage without the extra money.