Montana has a history of cutting taxes for the wealthy and creating loopholes for special interests and out-of-state corporations. This failed strategy has left counties without the resources to keep property taxes low. Tax system reforms should include three things:
1) collecting all the taxes owed to us,
2) closing tax loopholes, and
3) redirecting revenue toward the things that put pressure on county coffers, like public education, mental health crisis response, affordable housing and crime prevention.
We are not collecting all the taxes owed to us. For example, “pass through” entities create complex webs of ownership to disguise corporate earnings as personal income, which is taxed at a lower rate. Pass through entities should be taxed at the corporate rate. Another example is secret tax settlements: corporate property owners who protest their tax bills are allowed to cut deals with the Department of Revenue without letting auditors and assessors see pertinent information. We should repeal secret tax settlements.
Cleaning up Montana’s tax code by eliminating special tax breaks will make our tax code fairer and stop waste, fraud and abuse. We are losing at least $241 million each year through tax loopholes which most Montanans can not access. Most of these loopholes are obscure, archaic and benefit only out-of-state corporations, special interests and the very wealthy: things like the “oil and gas tax holiday”, the “water’s edge election”, and “carry back of corporate net operating losses”.
When we increase funding to public schools, it reduces pressure on property taxes. Today 58% of property taxes are used to support schools. In 2010-2011, schools received about 43% of their funding from the state, and 25% from local property taxes. We can increase the state share of school funding to decrease property taxes.
The state share of funding for mental health services, crisis response, and crime prevention can similarly reduce property taxes. When the county sheriff is called to a mental health crisis and takes a person into custody, the county pays for it, and the county relies on property taxes.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my time living and working in Neihart, its that no matter what the challenge, we can do the right thing. When I needed a ride to the hospital, all I had to do was call a neighbor. When my elderly neighbor found herself without wood for the winter, cutting a few cords for her was the least I could do. It’s the Montana way.
It’s one thing to give a neighbor a ride, or help with firewood, and another to take on a problem that was started some 70 years ago, and will take an act of congress to remedy.
All around us, friends and family are suffering from, and dying of cancer. For many we can only guess what caused it, but for people who lived in Montana in the 1950s, it is known that fallout from above-ground nuclear weapons testing done at the Nevada Test Site caused many cancers.
Most Montana cancer sufferers and survivors probably don’t even know their cancers were caused by our nation’s nuclear testing. These people deserve compensation for the harms the U.S. government caused to them and their loved ones.
Montana is one of the most impacted “downwind” states. Research from the National Cancer Institute has shown that Meagher County is the most exposed county in the United States, and that Montana is home to 15 of the 25 highest exposed counties in the country, including Broadwater, Beaverhead, Jefferson, and many more. Despite this history of exposure, Montana is not currently included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). RECA was sponsored by Senator Orin Hatch (R. UT) in 1990 to compensate those on the frontlines of our national security; people hurt by the production and testing of nuclear weapons. But that law did not include all the people who were affected, and in fact, did not include Montana at all.
This year, the US government is poised to take responsibility and extend compensation to all eligible Montanans. Two bills being considered (S.2790 and H.R. 5338) would amend RECA to add Montana as an eligible "downwind" state.
Co-sponsoring these bills would show that our Members of Congress (MoC) are making the government do the right thing by us. So far, Sen. Tester has cosponsored, but Sen. Daines and Rep. Rosendale have not.
You can call or write your MoC and simply ask them to co-sponsor the bills, and vote for them. It will help our neighbors to get the compensation and care they deserve, while holding our government accountable.
"This year, Krotkov said things have still been nationalized, but to a lesser degree. She said she has no idea what the election will hold, but she's focused on running a good campaign and ensuring people feel like she's listening to them."
Got that right!
Montanans weren't listened to during the last legislative session. Democracy doesn't work when all the voices aren't heard.
Trap shooting with the Sportsmen's Caucus was fun and informative.
Public trust resources and private property rights are at the crux of important decisions we need to make in Montana for our future. Is the land in Montana a playground for the rich, or a gift to be protected for the future?
I believe that humankind must respect the ecological integrity and sacredness of the natural world.
I will support small businesses by encouraging investment in our communities via green energy initiatives. When small businesses and homeowners have access to energy efficiency programs, the money we save gets spent downtown! The cheapest kilowatt hour is the one you never use.
No matter where in Cascade County we live, we are all Montanans and we all deserve the opportunity to provide a fulfilling life for ourselves and our families. That’s why I’m working to expand access to broadband and provide support for small businesses to reenergize the economy and create good paying jobs and good schools.
I like to focus on solutions that matter to regular Montanans. Here are a few ideas for what I can do in the legislature, to make those opportunities available. Let me know what you think.
Cascade County is the heart of Montana. Great Falls attracts small businesses with its livability: good public schools, quality of life, abundant health care options, and access to public lands.
Optimizing our community means being smart economically; prepared for long term, balanced prosperity.
We all deserve an opportunity with hard work to make families thrive. We get there by supporting families, kids, and workers with affordable healthcare, affordable housing, tools for small businesses to thrive, and tax fairness. A level playing field is the foundation of economic security and a whole community.
-Invest in public access for four year olds to attend pre-kindergarten, which has been shown to provide benefits that last into adulthood.
-Expand eligibility to SNAP and TANF assistance in post-secondary education so students don’t have to go hungry while pursuing higher education.
-Boost the dual credit program in Great Falls high schools so kids can walk off the high school graduation stage and have college credits and good job offers.
- Create a statewide family and medical leave insurance program so that employers can retain workers and ensure a healthy workforce. Businesses will save money and employees can build and sustain financial security in the face of the unexpected.
Supporting Small Businesses
- Encourage investment in our community through renewable energy initiatives.
-Provide on-bill, low and no-cost financing for energy efficiency upgrades and renewable energy installations.
-Create workforce housing by supporting non-profit entrepreneurs.
- Job training and skill development through apprenticeships and trade schools.
-Eliminate the capital gains tax credit, which only applies to people who pay federal taxes on estates and trusts - not most Montanans. That would bring $49m in revenue.
- Expand the state Earned Income Tax Credit, supplementing the wages of hard-working families, to allow parents to provide for their children and purchase needed goods in their local communities.