GUEST POST: Republican Senators Stealing from Poor to Pay For the Rich


Montana is now starting to see the agenda creep that is very similar to the Wisconsin disaster when Gov. Scott Walker and his followers gave 117 million dollars worth of tax breaks to corporations and big donors, and then placed the blame that “We Are Broke!” on the backs of teachers, firemen, police officers and public employees.

Our Republican Senators are in full sponsored support of SB 253 which takes the tax credits away from small businesses, consumers, and workers who benefit from forward looking industries which will help Montanans in the long run.  The sacrificial lambs will be tax credits for Energy Conservation, Recycling, Historical Preservation, Biodiesel production, Automobile Conversion, Film Production and Film Labor.  The sponsor of the bill, Senator Bob Lake of Hamilton stood up on the floor of the Senate and started his sponsor speech with,

”Thank you for helping me to pay for my new energy efficient windows on my house.”  “I used the tax credit available to me for my new windows”.

He stumbled into why it was bad tax policy and then he proceeded to vote for a bill that will kill the tax credit he just used.  I guess he got his windows and we can stuff it.

These Senators have decided that they would support a bill, SB 372, that would give tax reductions to companies that have over 2 million dollars in business equipment and pay for it with the removal of the tax credits used by the middle class for good clean energy savings and stimulates economies and jobs with main street businesses.  Exxon Mobil will be a large beneficiary of 64 thousand dollars along (twice as much as the entire cost of the film tax credit)  with the short fall balance of 23 million coming from schools, colleges, and taxpayer’s residential property tax in the general fund.

Because my business, Filmlites Montana, relies almost entirely on out of state filmmakers, it will be decimated with this bill.  Therefore, I will speak for the film portion of the bill.  Seventy five percent of the film crew professionals and a majority of the films shot in Montana have occurred in the Bozeman/Livingston area. The fact that Bozeman Senators Wittich and Balyeat have supported this bill, ignoring their constituents, is what really amazes me.  Hundreds of people in Montana have benefited from the film industry throughout the state and especially in this region. Very little is paid out of the general fund to pay for the tax credit.  Only 36 thousand was paid out in 2010 “ A very, very minor amount”, stated by Senator Lake. This is for a film industry that paid back in total 5 to 6 million in direct expenditures in shooting location areas and new Montana employee hires. I would say that is a pretty good deal for the Montana taxpayers.  That is literally pennies paid out by taxpayers to support an entire clean Montana industry that is used as a giant commercial for the state, which brings in millions in new tourism and new investments.  These Senators rely on the ignorance of the voters when stating “We don’t feel Montana tax payers want to subsidize Hollywood.”  The truth is, this tax credit is for Montana businesses and the Montana jobs they bring to the state.  They have to spend the money to get any subsidy.

Since the Big Sky on the Big Screen Act was enacted, over 40 states have a tax credit to entice filmmakers to shoot in their backyard.  Montana is in about 25th place in the size of the credit.  If the tax credit is not used enough it is because the legislature would not approve a larger one to become competitive.  If a state has no tax credit, they will be looked over.

Remember, these newly elected legislators were about creating jobs?  Destroying future looking clean industries so they can give tax breaks to large corporations, at the expense of middle class property owners, schools, and small businesses, shows more corporate protection ideology than job creating.


JP Gabriel

Filmlites Montana (political ads)


20 Comments on "GUEST POST: Republican Senators Stealing from Poor to Pay For the Rich"

  1. Seems to me the notion that subsidizing businesses may be the worst kind of mistake for governments of all kinds. Taxes ought to be used to maintain the safety, health, and welfare of citizens–and by that I mean actual flesh and blood citizens–not as they have come to be defined by partisan fiat…

  2. Lt. Col (Ret., Army) Rich Liebert | April 2, 2011 1:34 PM at 1:34 PM |

    Energy conservation and biofuel incentives have helped our state, as Senator Lake himself admitted, as he got ‘his’ but what about his fellow citizens? SB272 another giveaway to the CSA, no not the Confederate States of America as some ‘lust’ for, but the CORPORATE states of America, a far more insidious specter we’re
    been rammed toward by Koch Party’s and lobbyists. BIOFUELs that don’t use foodstocks are the next generation that NEEDS a ‘hand up’ as our Koch ‘friends’ and fossil-fuel industry has had for OVER a century across the planet.

    The film industry credit also helped bring the ‘Last American Cowboy’ to MONTANA, and could have easily gone to WYOMING Senator Jim Peteson (advocate of the now shelved ‘cowboy code’), and doesn’t it seem like his caucus wants to be more and more like Wyomin’ every day, rip, run and do some ‘cosmetic’ restoration?

  3. This is why Governor Schweitzer has the big iron the big VETO iron, I say fire up the burners and lets get to branding. Thank God Brian Schweitzer is the Governor of the Great State of Montana. Not only are we one of the greatests states in the nation but we have the best governor in the nation.

  4. WOOT! Our governor is a fucking badass for sure. Did you see this?

    • It was a nice pic and his speech seemed cool, but the big question is whether he has the will to use those irons. What has he vetoed? Did he veto the MM repeal bill? What other bills has he vetoed?

      I fully expect him to veto the budget bill. That has big political payoffs for him and the Democrats given the way the Legislature crapped all over the poor, seniors, education and children. The real question is whether he has the cahones to veto the bills that are bad that do NOT have a lot of political payoff, like the MM repeal bill.

      I have stated before that I think he will. He really has little to lose given that he is term limited as Governor. It could be wishful thinking, though, and a small part of me wants to see what the Montana Supreme Court has to say about the legislature repealing a Citizen voted initiative. The ones that lose will be the people that really need the MM to control pain. Whether the bill gets vetoed, challenged in court or left to stand, they have deal with the consequences. All the hype about “hippies gettin high” ignore the real reason the bill was passed.

      • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | April 2, 2011 6:50 PM at 6:50 PM |

        Jesus, moorkitty, your cynicism is truly remarkable! And shows just how little you know about the guv. Do you REALLY think that he can’t do the right simply because he’s a good, decent, caring, compassionate human being and it’s the right thing to do? Is it ALL about politics to you? MAN it’s gotta suck to be you! Get outta the house a little more, dude. SOME people go into politics because they care.

        Here, let me ask you a question. Do YOU express your opinion on blogs to simply gain something for it? Sheesh. How many legislators have you actually known? It’s a thankless job for most. Oh sure, some are venal, but MOST dem politicos are good, decent, hardworking people looking out for YOUR best interests! I put Schweitzer squarely in that class.

        • Not cynicism – experience. I rarely take a politician at face value because I have been shown in my 30+ years of voting that what a politician says is rarely what a politician thinks. You may be naive enough to believe that our good gov is an altruist person, but I don’t. There are very few politicians that I do believe are altruistic and half the time I am waiting for the other shoe to drop from them.

          I have met legislators from the local level (hell I am married to one that was) to the National level. I have even shaken the hand of a President. In my experience, even the “good” politicians weigh the political cost of their actions. In fact, it is usually the bad ones that stop considering the political cost (or the really delusional ones like knox).

          For the record, I like our good gov. I think he has done a better than average job as governor and I doubt his successor will be better. That said, I stand by what I wrote. We will see what path he takes when the MM repeal lands on his desk.

          I also noted that you failed to list any bills he has vetoed this session. Was that an oversight on your part or is it too tough a question? How many times has he gone on a limb to stop the insanity coming out of our legislature?

          BTW, lose the moorkitty BS, unless you want me to start calling you the pink power ranger. I did not attack you personally, there is no reason for you to attack me personally.

          • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | April 3, 2011 8:03 AM at 8:03 AM |

            Cynicism pure and simple. AND cheap shots from the peanut gallery. But here, WHAT does Schweitzer stand to gain personally from any actions he may take? He doesn’t. That fact is, he doesn’t NEED politics to survive at all. He’s been a very successful businessman in every endeavor he ever undertook.

            Ya know, as I watch dedicated, hardworking Dems in the lege fighting like hell to protect the rights and interests of working people, education, health care, care for the disabled and needy, etc., I get a bit repulsed by cynics like yourself. You add nothing to the conversation with crap like that. And it’s insulting to the legislators who are not venal.

            And call me what you want. I don’t care on whit, dude.

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | April 3, 2011 8:13 AM at 8:13 AM |

              p.s. And I find it funny that you’re upset with Moorkitty. I WAS going to use More Scat! But I chose not to. You just might be wound too tight to be a blogger if you get your whitey tighties in a knot over a benign name change. Just sayin’.

          • I still think of Larry Kralj as doglapollyanna.
            I’ve always felt the enviromental rangers bit was just a tad dramatic; but he has always adopted a pretty ferocious mien when dealing with politicians who could–or would–not get down and folksy with Montana stereotypes on line…

            • I think “larry the pink power ranger” fits him better – most of his replies seem to come from that level. I just find it sad that he is incapable of engaging in a discussion without attacking the individual. From now on, I will simply discount everything he says as inane BS.

              • Why do so many bloggers rush to hyperbole?
                Doglap was a school teacher. I have never know him to lie. He tends to exagerate the strength of the Democratic party in Montana; but, hell!–hope must persevere in the face of reality, don’t you think.
                Larry has a lot of old-fashioned wobbly patriotism; but–if you can catch him after his run and before he begins to drink, he is a pretty clever fellow.
                He, like a lot of folks from the mines, just like to toot their own horns more than we might like.

  5. I believe the phrase “Intercourse You, I Got Mine,” is the official slogan of the Republican party.

  6. Lt. Col (Ret., Army) Rich Liebert | April 2, 2011 10:51 PM at 10:51 PM |

    “Do as I say, not do as I do” NOT good leadership ethic for the Koch (aka GOP) Party players. I do understand skepticism about Governor and his ‘flair’ for theatrics, but in the end I believe he will – and has started (health bills) – put the ‘iron’ to the paper. I am particularly disappointed that an officer (retired) and gentleman like Speaker Milburn has been taken ‘hostage’ by the ‘tea baggers’ and until certain legislators stop calling health reform ‘Obamacare’ we can still insist on calling ’em ‘tea baggers’, fair play, as that’s the way the ‘Cowboy Code’ might direct?

  7. Which health care bill did he veto? I am not being snarky, I really want to know. I have found sites that list what bills have passed and who has voted for them, but I haven’t found a site that lists what bills the good gov has vetoed. I am preparing a post about the bad shit crazy antics from the Montana legislature this year and that information would be helpful.

  8. The only way in which the film industry is forward looking is full frontal nudity. Otherwise it’s a reactionary industry that’s always trying to cripple or kill copying technology like videotape recorders and supporting police state legislation like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    Yes, there are some starving artists in the industry. But they’re the exception. The big boys are filthy rich. To hell with giving them tax breaks or credits. Give them what they deserve: higher, much higher, income taxes.

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