HELENA -- Montana and tobacco companies have been embattled for years. Today, Attorney General Tim Fox held a press conference regarding a settlement the state reached.
It's been a long time coming for the state of Montana. Fox announced the settlement will total around $100 million, more than half of which will be available for the next legislative session.
Every dollar counts in a year like this one. The Montana Department of Justice had accused tobacco companies of wrongfully withholding between $3-4.5 million a year since 2006.
The biggest development from this announcement is the lack of wiggle room the tobacco companies have with the terms of the new settlement.
"The fact is that the tobacco companies have agreed, in perpetuity, never to again withhold a portion of the money they owe the state of Montana," Fox said.
So where does the money go now? Fox says more than $49 million of the settlement will go to the tobacco trust, as well as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other public health programs. Additionally, nearly $10 million will go to the state's general fund.
Fox also said the payment will be made available within the next 60-90 days and both Gov. Bullock and Governor-elect Gianforte have been notified.