- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Gov. Steve Bullock is negotiating with Republican Senate leaders in the final days of the legislative session to pass three tax credit and tax cut bills that he favors in exchange for tax policy measures that they want.

Bullock is advocating for bills that would give an earned income tax credit for the working poor, tax credits for businesses that employ new apprentices and tax cuts for new or expanding businesses, his spokeswoman Ronja Abel said Tuesday.

Abel said those measures, which the Republican-led Legislature initially rejected, would be an investment in workers and students.

“Conversations are ongoing and fluid,” she said of the negotiations.

The Republican-led Senate gave initial approval to the two tax credit bills on Tuesday. The tax cut measure, which previously failed to advance from the Senate Taxation Committee, was not up for discussion on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas declined to say what measures the Republicans are pushing for in exchange. He said GOP leaders are working on a list of bills.

He said the negotiations were not holding up the passage of bigger bills, such as the state budget and an infrastructure measure, but the talks could set the tone and influence how the final pieces come together before the Legislature adjourns.

“We want some wins for the Republican caucus in the state of Montana,” Thomas said. “We can send all these bills downstairs and they’d just get vetoed. So we’ve got good tax policy that needs to be done for the state and we want to do our best to get it in place.”

House Republican leaders are aware of the discussions with the governor, said House GOP spokeswoman Lindsey Singer.

Thomas said if negotiations on individual tax policy bills fail, Senate leaders plan to amend several of the measures - both those favored by the governor and by the Republicans - into two existing bills to make it more difficult for Bullock to veto the GOP measures.

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