HELENA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is urging state lawmakers to focus on bipartisan solutions, and says the biggest challenge on the federal level is balancing the budget.

Tester returned to the Legislature Monday where he got his political start. Tester won a bruising and expensive re-election campaign.

Tester built on the emerging theme of cooperation at the Legislature by urging them to put citizenship before partisanship. He says policy should be shaped by good ideas and not politics.

He says Congress wrongly flirted with disaster when it faced the fiscal cliff because both sides insisted on idealism and not realism.

The Democrat reiterated his support for a plan that both cuts spending and increases revenue.

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