This story is excerpted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday.

Average annual increase in state General Fund spending proposed by Gov. Greg Gianforte’s 2023-25 budget. That’s equivalent to about $122 million in new spending annually during the two-year fiscal biennium that runs from July 2023 to June 2025, or roughly $111 per Montana resident. Gianforte’s Budget Director, Ryan Osmundson, argued in a press briefing last week that the increase represents a “very conservative budget” given the economy’s rapid rate of inflation, estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at 14% nationally over the last two years.

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Eric came to journalism in a roundabout way after studying engineering at Montana State University in Bozeman (credit, or blame, for his career direction rests with the campus's student newspaper, the Exponent). He has worked as a professional journalist in Montana since 2013, with stints at the Great Falls Tribune, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and Solutions Journalism Network before joining the Montana Free Press newsroom in Helena full time in 2019.