Montana Democrats are out in full force trying to convince Montanans that they want to reduce your taxes. This is far from the truth as their actions in the legislative session speak much louder than their words now.
When they had the opportunity to support giving Montana resident taxpayers $900 million back in income and property taxes (up to nearly $4,000 per family), only two Democrat legislators in the entire Legislature voted for the rebates. The rest of the Democrats wanted to keep your money and spend it to grow government when we still had another $2 billion to cover other one-time only expenditures.
These same Democrats, now claiming they wanted to reduce taxes, opposed permanently reducing income tax rates in Senate Bill 121. Every Senate Democrat even voted against Senate Bill 124, which required out-of-state corporations to “pay their fair share” of taxes while lowering taxes on Montana-based businesses.
Time and time again Montana Democrats had the opportunity to support bills that would limit property tax levies, including allowing taxpayers to vote on levies every 5 years along with requiring higher voter majorities and voter turnout to raise property taxes. All Senate Democrats helped kill Senate Bill 511, which would have capped local government revenue growth to 4.75%, controlling the growth of your property taxes.
Democrats did bring bills to shift property taxes to other taxpayers, such as Representative Jonathan Karlen’s HB 280 at a cost of $80 million plus per year. His bill would have subsidized taxpayers in high property tax areas like Missoula, which he represents, at the expense of taxpayers in more rural, conservative, and lower tax areas. That was the Democrats’ solution: liberal city officials and voters increased taxes in their town, then their liberal representative in the Legislature tried to make other Montanans pay for it.
Republicans amended the state’s Property Tax Assistant Program (PTAP) with House Bill 189. That bill increased both the home value and the income limits that qualify for the program, helping taxpayers on fixed incomes by reducing their property tax burden. The program more fairly keeps the subsidy in the same taxing jurisdiction, so if Missoula raises property taxes, Missoula is also the community helping alleviate the burden on their seniors and others on low, fixed incomes.
All told, Republicans passed over $1 billion in one-time and ongoing, permanent tax relief over Democrats’ repeated objections. Anyone who’s been to a county fair this summer knows the smell of Democrats’ brand-new claims that they want to “reduce taxes.”
By: Senator Greg Hertz, R- Polson