The Montana Legislature brought Missoula College one step closer to getting a new home Friday afternoon.
House Bill 14, known as the Jobs and Opportunities by Building Schools bill, passed the House Appropriations Committee on a 14-7 vote according to the committee Minority Vice Chair Rep. Galen Hollenbaugh, D-Helena. All eight Democrats on the committee voted yes, along with six Republicans.
The bill would provide $29 million dollars toward building Missoula College – part of a $100 million package of college and university construction projects across the state.
Hollenbaugh said the committee made two amendments to the bill.
One amendment removes funding for a new Montana Historical Society building in Helena. Hollenbaugh said the $23 million dollars the bill would have raised in bonding for that project will now be tacked on to House Bill 5, instead.
The other amendment, introduced by Rep. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, establishes an option to pay for the projects with cash, instead of bonding, if the state has the money at the end of the fiscal year.
Hollenbaugh said he supported the amendment, although he’s not sure paying cash will be an option.
“I don’t know how much money we’re going to spend in this session,” he said. “But I supported it because if we do end up being in a good cash position, maybe it’ll be okay to do that.”
Because bonding is still a possibility, HB 14 will require 67 votes, in place of the usual 50, to pass the 100-member House. Every bill that requires the state to take on debt needs a two-thirds majority to pass.
Hollenbaugh said he expects the House to vote on HB 14 early next week; if it passes, it will then be transferred to the Senate.