FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HELENA, Mont. (Jan. 27, 2023)— The SAFER Act, a bill sponsored by Representative Sprunger, R-Kalispell, passed through House Appropriations today unanimously with a 23-0 vote.
House Bill 267, known as The SAFER Act, forms a fund for the sole function of providing state match dollars for road and bridge projects. These match dollars are required to secure both federal transportation grants and additional one-time-only (OTO) federal funding opportunities available annually through August redistribution of federal dollars. The state of Montana does presently pursue these opportunities but with the SAFER Act, the capacity to secure much-needed funds will be far greater.
Funds from the SAFER Act will be used to tackle Montana’s high-priority road, bridges, and safety projects as identified by the Transportation Commission and executed by Montana Department of Transportation.
Per the legislation, up to $15 million per year may be used in match for grants and redistribution dollars.
Based on state-federal match rates, this will allow the Montana Department of Transportation to leverage the $100 million dollar SAFER fund to secure an estimated $700 to $800 million dollars in federal match dollars. Any unused dollars in a year will roll forward until the fund is expended.
By securing these dollars, officials also anticipate staving off a gas tax increase in the immediate future.
“As a state, we have struggled to keep up with an ever mounting list of needs, from major infrastructure in urban centers to timber bridge repairs across Eastern Montana. We simply have far more need each year than resources,” said Representative Sprunger. “That’s why the SAFER Act is a game changer for Montana – it will help us start tackling the backlog so Montanans can get where they need to go safely and efficiently.”
More information on HB 267 can be found at The Montana Legislature Bill Lookup Site. Representative Courtenay Sprunger (www.courtenayforkalispell.com) serves on behalf of Montana House District 7, the heart of downtown Kalispell.