The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service has announced that state-wide the January 1, snowpack is 12 percent above average and 46 percent greater than January 1, 2010. State-wide mountain snowpack was above average and well above last year. January 1 represents about 45 percent of the expected seasonal snowfall, so more than half of the snowfall season remains. November and December precipitation has led to January 1 snowpack to be above average and streamflow prospects for the spring and summer to be near average.
Mountain snow water content state-wide was 112 percent of average and 146 percent of last year. West of the Continental Divide mountain snow water content was 106 percent of average and 142 percent of last year. East of the Continental Divide mountain snow water content was 112 percent of average and 139 percent of last year.
The Legislative Fiscal Division has released a report projecting the state would be facing a $383 million budget gap for the 2013 biennium, setting the stage for a battle between the Democratic governor and the Republican controlled Legislature .
The report acknowledged that while the governor’s reductions narrowed the gap, increased costs for kindergarten through 12th grade schools and the Department for Health and Human Services would leave the state with a shortfall of about $383 million. That’s in comparison to the just under $400 million estimate in March and $368 million in September.
As the economy emerges from the worst recession since the 1930s, the damage is apparent: diminished personal income, uncertain housing markets, high unemployment rates, permanent closures in key industrial facilities and budget pressures on state and local government. As the country grows impatient, where is Montana in the recovery process and where do we stand in rebalancing the economy?
Patrick Barkey, director of The University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, will discuss what has already happened – and what still needs to happen – to bring growth back into balance at the 36th annual Economic Outlook Seminar titled “Paying for the Recession – Rebalancing Montana’s Economy.”
Despite opposition from environmental interests in the US, officials of TransCanada Corp, builders of the Keystone XL pipeline through Montana expressed confidence of getting permitted to extend the line.
An article in the Calgary Herald reported that in an interview with TransCanada’s new chief executive Russ Girling, the CEO expressed confidence that even though the BP oil spill ratcheted up concern about the pipeline. “…the U.S. is going to continue to import oil for decades to come,” he is quoted, “They consume 10 million barrels per day now, with Canada the key exporter.”
Montana Policy Institute
Montana will become the first state in the nation to prohibit illegal aliens from collecting workers’ compensation if a bill introduced in the 2011 state Legislature is passed into law, according to an official from the National Employment Law Project.
Bozeman Republican House Member, Gordon Vance, said the idea for the legislation, House Bill 71, comes from his experience with the workers’ compensation issue when he was on a committee that examined the costs of the program. Despite rates that have been declining over the past five years, Montana has the most expensive workers’ compensation rates among all states.
There have recently been news reports and commentaries claiming that government employees tend to be paid more than those in the private sector when comparing the same kind of jobs. While there have been those who claim that the comparisons are skewed and distorted, a comparison of 2009 household income levels in Montana tends to support the idea.
Lewis and Clark County – the home of state government, whose economy is dominated by public sector jobs — has the highest median income level per household in the state. Half of the households have incomes above $50,425, and half below that figure.
The Big Sky Business Journal
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