GUEST POST:What GOP Legislators Don’t Want You to Know about MT’s Budget and Revenue

Montana Republicans tax giveaways for the rich.In 2003 Montana passed massive tax giveaway for very wealthy people. Look where it has gotten us.


The state has no money. Certainly part of the reason is that the GOP made up a fake revenue forecast, and passed a budget knowing they’d never be able to raise the money they claimed. This is a topic of today’s legislative interim committee meeting.

But that’s only part of the story.

The state has no money because the GOP has been cutting or eliminating taxes at every turn, but never more so than when they last controlled two of the three branches of government, in 2003.

The GOPers, you see, believe they must give special tax shelters to their wealthy backers in return for campaign contributions.  Not even when we have a major natural disaster: the state is burning down and the fire funds are long exhausted. Not even if health care home aides cost more. Not even if our schools are crumbling and our internet speed is on par with West Virginia.

Their “solution” now is not to raise money, but to sit back and force Montana to cut public services. Like health care for the working poor. Like child care for the working poor so they can go to work. Likes service for the poor with disabilities so they can take a shower. Like nursing home care and pretty much anything that comes before “to the poor, elderly, to the people with disabilities, or to foster kids.” Because, to Republicans, these people don’t matter (They care only enough to use these causes to get their names in the paper, but not enough to actually fund the programs they give lip service to).

You see, in 2003 Republicans passed massive tax giveaways for the wealthiest Montanans.  In fact, they gave away $100 million in tax breaks the first year this went into effect alone. Nearly  1/2  of this went to people who earn more than $500,000 a year.  If you’re making that much money, even these days, I’m sorry, you do not get to whine. These are the people who’ve been benefiting from the GOP policies. After 10 years, they’d given away more than a billion dollars, at the expense of the rest of us.

What exactly is so wrong about correcting the imbalance by asking the wealthiest of the wealthy for more money when a million acres of our state is literally burning down, or so that people who make a TENTH or less of what they earn can see a doctor, or go to work without leaving their kid at an unlicensed drop-in day care run out of their neighbor’s garage?

Sure, there would be the usual crap arguments against reforming the public revenue structure:

If you tax the wealthy, you see, you’ll hurt all the small businesses! The poor small businesses! The poor family farms! The poor, poor Galt industrial complex! The people that create the jobs! Can’t hurt the small businesses!  Stop it, you’re hurting the family farms!”

No, you can’t just exempt the small businesses and family farms. Gotta lump them in with Arch Coal and Charter Communications worth billions when tax-time rolls around.

I guess I am starting to get tired of GOP cowards hiding behind hollow straw man arguments to protect their own big corporate donors. (And by the way, if small businesses and family farms are affected by fixing personal income taxes, that means one of two things. Either the small businesses and family farms are idiots for filing under personal income tax laws, or the small business and family ag tax laws need to be fixed. Nothing can be done about the former, but if legislative leadership really cared about this issue, it turns out that they do, actually, wait for it…write our state’s tax code. They could actually choose to fix it. But they won’t because they’d lose their cover for protecting not just big tobacco executives and the Smith River mining company investors, but also RioTinto and Charter Corp.

P.S. How many times to we have to study it to know that tax giveaways don’t create jobs.


16 Comments on "GUEST POST:What GOP Legislators Don’t Want You to Know about MT’s Budget and Revenue"

  1. The MTGOP have put us in their Koch Agenda race to the bottom…..

    • This is what we get when AFP has practically co-opted so much of the MT-GOP. They decide and push policy because they pay for some much of the party’s messaging, events and they back them to the hilt. It’s essentially pay for play…as if this is a game..

  2. boB AKA @Gyrogyrloose | September 14, 2017 1:52 PM at 1:52 PM |

    keep repeating this every time you hear the “Estate Tax” family farm bullshit-A COUPLE HAS THE FIRST $11MILLION EXEMPT FROM INHERITANCE TAXES! The NYT searched 15 years of records and were unable to locate one single family farm that had been affected. Unless you mean the Conforte family and the Mustang Ranch and even then I think Joe managed fine. Stienbrenner? the baseball Baron amassed a $9Billion estate using publicly educated/trained players in publicly funded facilities and broadcast on publicly funded airwaves and yet when he died he paid ZERO in estate taxes because of the Dubya tax “reform” that was thankfully only temporary. Our founding fathers stressed the need to prevent the wealthy from amassing such inter-generational fortunes for the protection of our democracy-a lesson we have been forgetting! so remember to shout it if you have to-$11,000,000 EXEMPT! ELEVEN MILLION! I am quite sure my spouse’s family would love to sell their family farm for $11,000,000, even if they have been there over a hundred years, somehow I doubt they will get such an offer.

  3. Ah, but you gotta remember, Bob – it’s not an “Estate Tax”… it’s a “Death Tax” – and I’ve had people who barely have a pot to piss in tell me that they were, “Against the ‘Death Tax’.”

    Ya gotta admit that renaming it like that was a brilliant move by the GOPers! Kinda like “Death Panels.” Fricking brilliant! We progressives really need to get on that stick, too – because it works!

    From now on, instead of calling a spade a spade, because that’s what intelligent and honest people do, Democrats need to start calling any Republican ‘spade’ a “Death Stick;” any proposed mine in the Paradise Valley a “Death Hole.” Any proposed budget cut a “Childrens’-Death Bill.” We should’ve called our GOP legislators’ refusal to allow an all-mail-in ballot initiative during the GG election a “Death to Democracy” bill – because that’s precisely what it was.

    You get the picture – and I hope our milquetoast Democrats in Helena get it, too, and start playing verbal hardball with the Reptiles, because that seems to work on Montana’s voters, and we desperately need to find something that does, or we’ll keep electing these rightwing shills and sociopaths. Maybe we could even start calling the next Republicans who run for office, “Kitten-killer-Ken” Smith, or “Baby-eater-Bill” Jones…

  4. The sky isn’t falling guys.

    Montanans chickens are coming home to roost.

    Our State spending has increased too much, (Thanks Gov BS) and it’s time to butcher the hog !

  5. Still talking out your ass I see.

    According to the state of Montana’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, the state had 18,801 full-time equivalent employees in 2004. Twelve years later, that number had increased to 22,991, up by more than 4,000 employees, including university system employees.
    Ron Ehli

    Ron Ehli

    The government spent $5.4 billion in 2015, 50 percent more than it spent in 2004. All forms of tax revenues went up dramatically in that 12 years: Taxes on natural resources more than doubled, personal income tax revenues almost exactly doubled, and corporate income taxes increased more than 150 percent.

    Pretty awful, huh? But what else happened in that 12 years?

    For one thing, Inflation alone accounts for nearly a billion dollars, or about half, of that spending increase. For another, Montana grew by just about 100,000 people in the last 12 years, a 10 percent or so population increase.

    Personal income increased more than 50 percent, to nearly $41 billion. Visits to state parks increased by 300,000 a year. Montana added more than 600 miles of paved roads. More than 3,000 additional students were attending universities or colleges of technology. District court filings increased 40 percent.

    The number of employees in the state’s Office of Public Defender increased 6,500 percent from 2004 to 2011 after the American Civil Liberties Union sued over inadequate representation for poor people. Jobs across the state were created for 26,000 people.

    Through all of that, government’s bite on the average taxpayer barely changed. The effective tax rate (personal income tax revenues divided by total personal income) was 2.3 percent in 2004. In 2015, it was 2.6 percent, but most of that increase came back in 2006 when legislative tax reforms took effect. Those reforms, you may recall, dramatically cut tax rates for the wealthiest Montanans and cut rates a little for just about everybody, but other changes in the tax laws actually made taxes go up for about 24,000 households.

    State employees made up 5.27 percent of the workforce in 2004. By 2015, that number had increased to 5.41. But federal employment dropped slightly during that period, so the chance that one of the next 20 people you pass on the street works for the state or federal government hasn’t changed much.

    State expenditures, as a percentage of personal income, actually have fallen slightly since 2004. State debt as a percentage of personal income has been cut in half since 2004.

    One thing conservatives and liberals ought to agree on is that no matter how much money they are willing for government to spend, none of it should be wasted. Ehli and Knudsen are right to take a hard look at every penny and every position, especially when major industries are being hurt by falling prices.

    But they are wrong to exaggerate what has happened in Montana over the last dozen years. Partisan finger pointing is no substitute for sound fiscal policy.

  6. Tell you what “The Bobs” the State accepts contributions to the general fund anytime, so whenever you think you’re getting a bargain, please send them a check.

    Since you probably have no idea what property taxes are, ask your parents (your roommates?) how much their taxes have gone up since 2000, and how they feel about it.

  7. Eric, I own a home outside of Bozeman city limits and a large chunk of my property taxes go towards education. It seems the money was wasted on you.

    But weren’t you highlighting the State Government and their budget short-fall?
    FYI My 2010 Property Taxes were 1324.97 (as far back as my electronic statements go)

    My 2016 Property Taxes were 1333.24. Oh my fucking god!!!!!!! I am being taxed to death and the rate they are increasing is downright criminal.

    Keep showing what an idiot you are, this is amusing.

  8. I have a thick file of paid tax receipts, and since 2000 my taxes have increased 43%.

    $1016.03 to $1762.68 FYI

  9. I don’t doubt that for a minute. Are you familiar with the term inflation?

    100 dollar in 2000 is now 142 dollars.

    In your example:

    $1,016 in 2000 → $1,444.27 in 2017

    That alone explains a lot of why your property taxes have gone up.

    I don’t mind paying taxes if the money is going to the right places and not being wasted.

  10. Oh and BTW, if your example is correct, that is an increase of about 72%.

    1016 x .72 =731 + 1016= 1747

    • Of course, you both ignore the fact that real property taxes primarily fund county government, public schools and the university system .

      The reductions in income tax which primarily funds state operations forces more tax back to the real property tax payers to pay more for service previously paid for on a shared basis by income tax. The rich do better for no reason other they have power. While the majority of Montanans pay more per capita
      This is the goal of the Republican leadership of the Legislature no matter the outfall.

  11. Sorry OLD but I do not ignore nor do I deny that fact.

    And nor do I disagree that that is the goal of the MT GOP, or at least one of them.

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