Republican Priorities: Huge Tax Cuts Over Voter-Approved Healthcare

As I noted earlier in the week, Republican Senate President Bob Story claims that expanding the state’s CHIP program would be too expensive, costing $35 million dollars.

Putting aside Senator Story’s questionable accounting and willful decision to pretend that the CHIP program wouldn’t trigger millions in federal matching funds,one can only assume that Senator Story will soon be writing editorials to Montana newspapers criticizing Senator Roy Brown’s latest effort to exempt businesses from the business tax, which will cost roughly $50 million annually:

Last week, the Senate Tax Committee heard yet another proposal, SB 490 by Sen. Roy Brown (R-Billings). Brown’s bill proposed to increase the tax exemption on business equipment from $20,000 to $5 million, a change that would take thousands of Montana businesses off the equipment tax rolls (leaving only 100 to continue paying, albeit with the $5 million exemption in pocket), reduce the business equipment slice of the property tax pie from 7% to 4%, and cost the state $50 million annually in lost tax revenue.

It is about priorities.

(Check out Session 61, an informative blog about the the current session.)

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • Pogie you say, “It is about priorities.” I couldn’t agree more.

    Small business represents about 80% of the jobs. Small business sustains most of Montana cities and towns. The economic downturn is making “Closing” signs appear everywhere. We all lose with each closure. Anything that alleviates the cost pressures, like addressing the equipment tax, when revenue streams dwindle is an urgent priority to keep our communities going. Juxtaposing CHIP vs. the business equipment tax is irrelevant to those community needs that are dependent on sustainable commercial enterprise.

  • I don’t believe that businesses will have to close because their taxes weren’t eliminated.

    Many times, business equipment will reduce or eliminate the need to hire employees. Have you ever watched one of those forest machines do what used to provide employment to a whole crew of men?

    It is about priorities.

  • Is the current business tax really so burdensome on small businesses?

    Senator Brown never adequately answered Governor Schweitzer’s argument about the impact of eliminating the business tax on county governments, either.

    Maybe Republicans should bring this issue to the voters. 🙂

  • Hi Carla! Small towns just don’t have anything analogous to those logging machines. I grew up in a small town. Our success was based on putting politics aside and turning sholder-to-shoulder to stand together to meet community challenges. Our failures arose when we pulled against each other.

    Businesses close for a variety of reasons including the inability to meet fixed costs. Business taxes that are a ‘piece of the action’ that rise and fall based on success are not the problem. When those taxes are fixed, such as property taxes, they are just one more factor leading to closing down when small business cannot ride out difficult times.

  • See:

    HELENA – Republicans and Democrats brokered a House budget deal Monday that calls for full funding of the children’s health insurance initiative that was approved last fall by voters — and promises quick action on a normally contentious issue.

    Members of the House Appropriations Committee hailed an easy voice vote, with no debate, on the state’s main spending plan as a historic work of bipartisanship.

    It seems that House D’s and R’s are now holding hands over CHIP.

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