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.