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Senate panel backs big school funding bill

HELENA (AP) — A Montana Senate committee is backing a big education funding bill that has been two years in the making.

The proposal unanimously cleared the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday and goes to the Senate floor.

It aims to increase education funding — and cut property taxes with the help of natural resource revenue.

It sends about $40 million to reduce local property taxes over the next two years. After some changes made in committee, it would send about $50 million in new money to schools.

Committee chairman Jim Peterson of Buffalo says the bill prioritizes education and deserves to be part of a budget process in the House.

The bill has a broad coalition of backers — and some skeptics worried about its method of tying schools to oil development.


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