Newly elected Speaker of the House, Republican Greg Hertz from Polson has been meetings for the past several days preparing for the upcoming 2019 legislative session.

Hertz’ first order of business is not allowing tax increases from the Governor’s office.

“The main thing that’s always on the list is balancing the state budget,” said Hertz. “We will do that, along with standing firm against any tax increases. The Governor just released his budget today. Last session, the Democrats and the Governor brought about $200 million in taxes that we did not accept. We declined every new tax increase that we could, but it looks like he’s back to proposing more tax increases.”

Hertz addressed the fact that with the failure of I-185, the burden of funding and extending Medicaid expansion lies on the shoulders of the 2019 Legislature.

“We recognize our responsibility to manage Medicaid expansion this session,” he said. “It’s an important fiscal and human service issue. Right now, it’s too early to discuss any specific proposals. Bills will need to be drafted, committees will need to meet, and we’ll need time to consider all the options.”

Hertz also addressed the issue of fellow Republican Nancy Balance, who spoke to KGVO News on Wednesday about not being named the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

“I think that’s a little premature,” said Hertz. “Right now, we’re still in the process of forming committees and making committee assignments, so nothing is definite at this point in time.”

Hertz said he’s willing to reach across the aisle to House Democrats on a variety of issues, except one.

“Yeah, at any time we’ll reach across the aisle and work with Democrats on good ideas, with one exception. We’re not in the mood to raise anybody’s taxes.”

The 2019 Legislature begins on January 7 and runs for 90 days.