Some Montanans now have access to education tax credits, after Senate Bill 410 passed into law in May, but school choice remains extremely limited in the state.
SB 410 was the only school choice bill to pass this legislative session, and it became law without Gov. Steve Bullock’s (D) signature.
Legislators introduced a variety of education bills this session, including measures for Common Core repeal, charter schools, data privacy for students, standardized testing reform, and greater local control. All but two failed to reach the governor’s desk, and of those two, Bullock vetoed one and the other became law after a 10-day waiting period, when Bullock neither signed nor vetoed it.
Political, Judicial Impediments
Sen. Kris Hansen (R-Havre) says it is difficult to make changes in education policy in Montana because of the influence of teachers unions and a court interpretation of the state constitution.
“In Montana, if there’s any bill that isn’t 100 percent supported by the teachers’ union, the first claim is that it’s unconstitutional,” Hansen said. “The unconstitutional claim falls on a segment of the Montana constitution.”