Montana Republican proposes state give $8M for border wall
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana politician is proposing the state give more than $8 million to help build President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border as a government shutdown over the $5.7 billion project continues. The proposal seems unlikely to pass in a state with a Democratic governor exploring a run for president.
At least one other state, South Dakota, is considering voicing support for Trump’s wall. But Montana, which last year faced a massive budget shortfall, appears to be the first to propose spending its own money on the project.
Scott Sales, a fiscally conservative Republican who leads the state Senate, says his proposal is a “small token” to show border security “is of vital interest to all citizens regardless of what state they live in.”
Trump headed to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday to argue his case for the funding.
“Congress is basically dragging their heels over $5 billion, which is really trivial compared to what we spend on an annual basis,” Sales said Wednesday.
Sales said he calculated Montana’s “share” of the cost of the wall by dividing the state’s gross domestic product by the national GDP and multiplying it by $5.7 billion.
Montana’s $8 million wouldn’t go very far, with Trump’s $5.7B request expected to build 234 miles (377 kilometers).
House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, a Democrat, said the Legislature should focus on building Montana’s infrastructure.
“That’s a lot of school roofs and boilers,” added Democratic Rep. Laurie Bishop.
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who appears to be exploring a run for president in 2020, could veto the measure should it pass the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Montana, where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 20 points, shares a 545-mile (877-kilometer) border with Canada, where there is no wall.