(AP) Montana is spending more than $1.5 million to hire more employees and hire more contractors to work with the state’s rental companies.
Steve Bullock signed the bill Thursday as part of a larger $15 million package that includes $3.7 million in funding for the state Transportation Department, $300,000 for Montana Transportation Department contractors and $1,500 to hire an additional 40 full-time staff members.
The $1 billion program will be administered by the state Department of Transportation and includes $1 in cash grants to cover payroll, $500,000 in vehicle repairs, $350,000 to cover expenses related to motor vehicle inspections and $750,000 toward a car hire service that will help Montanaers rent or lease cars.
The new hires will help boost Montana’s state revenue, Bullock said.
Montana has one of the highest vacancy rates in the nation.
There are nearly 20,000 fewer rental cars available for rental each year than there were a year ago.
The state had 3,621 rental cars for sale in January, down from 5,831 the year before.
Montanas current unemployment rate is 4.3 percent, down slightly from 5.5 percent a year earlier.
Bullock is also seeking $5 million from the federal government to assist the state in dealing with the rising cost of housing, including paying off $6.8 million in unsecured mortgages.