HELENA — Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte named Kurt Alme, currently Montana’s U.S. Attorney, as his administration’s budget director Nov. 24.
The move puts Alme, a former director of the Montana Department of Revenue, at the helm of the governor’s budget office as Gianforte looks to make good on campaign promises to control state spending and provide Montanans with tax relief. Past budget directors have typically been among the highest-profile staffers in a governor’s administration, taking the lead in the governor’s budget negotiations with the state Legislature.
“We received a clear mandate from Montanans to fire up our economy and hold the line on state spending, and I need a leader of Kurt’s experience and intellect to implement that mandate,” said Gianforte, a Republican, in a press release. “I’m confident that we’ll be able to identify waste in the budget and free up those dollars so that folks can keep more of the money that they earn.”
Alme, 54, led the Montana Department of Revenue between 2001 and 2003 under the administration of Gov. Judy Martz, the most recent Republican to serve as Montana governor.
More recently, he has served as U.S. Attorney for Montana, the top prosecutor in Montana’s wing of the federal court system. Alme was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to that role in 2017 after being nominated by President Donald Trump.
Alme announced Nov. 23 that he would resign as U.S. Attorney effective Dec. 2 in a release that touted his efforts to reduce meth-related violent crime and improve how investigations of missing Native American residents are conducted.
He is also a member of Gianforte’s COVID-19 task force.
A native of Miles City, Alme has a business degree from the University of Colorado and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
A Gianforte spokeswoman said the governor-elect would provide salary information for Alme and other appointees “later this year or early next.” According to the state’s employee pay dashboard, current Budget Director Tom Livers is paid an hourly wage equivalent to an annual salary of $121,074.
Outgoing Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, unveiled his suggested budget for the 2022-23 biennium Nov. 16. As the incoming governor, Gianforte has the opportunity to tweak that proposal before it’s submitted to the Republican-controlled Legislature for debate this winter, with his budget amendments due by Jan. 7.
Members of the Lewis and Clark and Powell County Republican Central committees have advanced three candidates to replace the resigning incumbent.
After a 2.4% decline during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, preliminary data from Montana’s public schools indicates K-12 student enrollment is continuing to bounce back.
The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission on has advanced a tentative new configuration of the state’s 100 House districts for consideration by the public. Presiding commissioner Maylinn Smith broke a tie in favor of the body’s two Democrats following a week of intense — and often private — negotiations.