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MT OPI Superintendent Says Governor’s Office ‘Was Threatening’ Over School Budget

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A tight budget has led to threats from the Montana Governor’s office, according to Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen. Arntzen says she received a call from budget Director Dan Villa two weeks ago, in which he demanded a delay of payments to Montana schools.

“He just was saying, you know ‘there isn’t money in the treasury, you need to do this, you need to be a team player,’” said Arntzen. “I looked at him and I said you know it is important, schools are number one. I said to him I would like to know what the Governor is going to do when this delay of payments happens and what is he going to say to schools. He came back and he said we are going to take $10 million from you.”

Arntzen says the threat was followed up late last week.

“That was Tuesday before last,” Arntzen said. “On Friday I got a letter and it was from the Governor’s Office saying now all of our contracts are frozen, we can’t hire anybody and we need to find $10 million more to go back into the state treasury.”

The Associated Press interviewed Villa earlier this week about the matter. According to that report Villa said Arntzen was “trying to politicize a routine matter.”

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