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Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services director Charlie Brereton, center, appears with staff members before lawmakers on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.

Lawmakers on two key committees plan to take preliminary votes this week on major funding requests for Montana’s health department, the largest state agency, which is tasked with running the state psychiatric hospital, child welfare services, state Medicaid programs and much more.

In total, the Department of Public Health and Human Services is requesting a more than $7 billion allocation over the next two years, according to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s executive request released in November, a roughly 17% increase in funds over the current budget cycle. On the first day of the Legislature’s health and human services budget subcommittee, chair and Rep. Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork described navigating the agency’s requests as an “awesome $7 billion worth of responsibilities.”

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