Montana’s budget is running in the black, unlike many states crippled by the sluggish economy, but the state still will have to make stiff cuts to maintain its balanced budget as tax collections fall, Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday.

Schweitzer said the state is operating with a surplus and he expects to maintain the balanced budget with further cuts.

“We’ve balanced our checkbook for five straight years with no tax increases, while funding education and essential services,” the Democratic governor said in a statement.

But the state will still have to reduce costs. Schweitzer recently proposed 5%, or $40 million, in reductions to the budget in an effort to keep from raising taxes. He also has proposed further cuts of about $120 million, according to a statement.

Schweitzer said his executive budget will be balanced and will include essential services for Montanans, no tax increases, and a strong ending-fund balance.

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