Budget director recommends $40M in cuts
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The governor's budget director is recommending nearly $40.5 million in cuts, including $17 million from the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Tuesday he planned to study the recommendations and make a final decision, noting the state still has $320 million in the bank. The largest reduction calls for eliminating $6 million from the DPHHS budget by canceling planned provider rate increases for physicians, child care and foster care providers, disability services and the children's mental health bureau. The recommendation by Budget Director David Ewer said the increases proposed for the 2011 fiscal year are not sustainable. Earlier this month, the Legislative Fiscal Division projected the state faces a $60 million budget deficit by mid-2011, while the governor's office predicted about a $5 million surplus. "We have already found about $30 million worth of cuts and added another $ 4 0 mi l l ion in sugges ted cut s, " Schweitzer said. Ewer has forecast the state will get another $19 million in federal matching funds, bringing the June 2011 ending balance to $90 million, the governor said. Schweitzer said that forecast does not include increased economic optimism he's hearing about. "We'll see that revenues will start picking up," Schweitzer said. "Everyone is agreeing that we're approaching or have reached the bottom of the recession." But Schweitzer said he still plans to cut the budget. "I said to the people of Montana that we will cut dollars without cutting corners," he said. Other large cuts proposed by Ewer inc l u d e $ 6 . 8 mi l l i on f rom the Commissioner of Higher Education and $6.8 million from the Department of Corrections along with $3.9 million from the Department of Public Instruction.