Baucus, Tester: Funding for Billings Courthouse in Senate jobs bill

Senators Say Funding Boost Could Finalize Courthouse Project

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today said dollars in the economic recovery bill before Congress could be enough to finish a new federal courthouse in Billings.

Baucus passed legislation last year to authorize the General Services Administration to construct a new federal courthouse in Billings — at an estimated total cost of about $70 million. Officials estimate that the project will create about 800 jobs during construction.

To complete the project, however, the U.S. Marshals Service is on the hook for about $2.8 million to house and handle federal prisoners.

That’s why Baucus and Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urged lawmakers to include additional funds for the U.S. Marshal Service as part of the economic recovery bill working its way through Congress.

The Senate Appropriations Committee today included an additional $125 million for the Marshals Service to help address funding issues in Billings and three other courthouses across the country.

“This is great news for Billings,” said Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “We’ve come so far on this project that we can’t let up now. This is the last remaining hurdle and it looks like we’ll get it done. The new courthouse will be a boon to jobs and downtown.”

“A new courthouse is an investment in long-term infrastructure that will bring new jobs to Billings,” Tester said.  “Investments like these will help rebuild Montana’s economy from the ground up and will pay us back for generations to come.”

The new Billings courthouse will replace the current federal building in town, which is contaminated with asbestos. The new facility will be built on land owned by Yellowstone County and the Big Sky Economic Development Administration.

Baucus and Tester said Congress intends to pass the economic recovery bill and send it to President Obama before the President’s Day Holiday in February. The measure must pass the Senate and be reconciled with a similar House version.