Montana has a projected general fund budget surplus of $427 million as of mid-2013. This projection is a starting point. Montana has liabilities to address first. These include the PPL settlement (if it is settled by then), the Libby asbestos lawsuit, MQEC lawsuit on school funding, and both the Public Employees and the Teacher Retirement System's potential shortfalls.
Montana's budgeting process should be about what is needed to run the state, not how much can we spend. We were able to stop government growth and cut the budget over 6 percent last session.
One unknown to keep in mind is if the federal government cuts its budget, some of those cuts will be felt at the state and county levels.
There are many legislators who are already lined up with ways to spend the hoped-for surplus, although I believe some of this money should go back to the hardworking people who initially earned it. This would stimulate our state's economy even more. Forms of property tax relief are being discussed and researched for the next session.