During the 2011 Montana legislative session, Northeastern Montana was targeted like never before. With much of western Montana suffering high unemployment and stagnant job growth, Northeastern Montana was prospering due to oil development.
This resulted in a Democrat Governor-led attempt in the legislature to confiscate local oil tax revenue, which is supposed to go to Northeastern Montana counties and schools to deal with the impacts of the oilfield. This confiscated wealth was then to be redistributed via Helena, to pay for bloated state budgets and increased spending.
Austin vehemently opposed these attempts, and nearly succeeded in killing the final confiscation bill in a heated House floor debate. The bill passed by one vote. This final bill still took some oil impact money out of Northeastern Montana schools, but thanks to Austin's hard work, it was only a fraction of the amount originally targeted.