In the latest move of his increasingly desperate, negative campaign, Greg Gianforte decided to remind Montanans that he is too rich to possibly understand their concerns, announcing that he would donate his salary if elected governor.
That’s a lovely gesture, but one is left to ask what is preventing Mr. Gianforte from donating that money outside of the context of a political campaign. Probably the same thing that prevented him from buying the naming rights to a building at MSU until his campaign kicked off.
While the donation idea got Mr. Gianforte in the papers again yesterday, the $100,000 or so he’d donate each year would pale in comparison to the damage he’d do to the state if elected.
Just yesterday, the Montana Budget & Policy Center released a report detailing the one billion dollars of lost state revenue from the decision in 2003 to sharply reduce state taxes. As their report notes, the tax cuts were directed largely at the wealthiest of Montanans, with the top 1% of incomes receiving over 55% of the tax cuts:
The trend of the 2003 law disproportionately benefiting the wealthiest continues today. From 2005 to 2016, the wealthiest 1% of Montanans received over $536 million (or 55%) of the tax cuts brought about by the legislation.14 Montana families earning between $25,000 and $60,000 have seen almost no benefit at all.
As the report notes, the cost has been a more prosperous Montana. The lost one billion dollars could have covered the deferred maintenance at every public school in the state or rebuilt our highway infrastructure, not to mention have provided educational opportunities for low-income families. All lost, so that the wealthiest of Montanans could enjoy massive tax breaks while the rest of us received almost nothing.
And who was one of the cheerleaders for the 2003 tax cuts? None other than current Republican candidate for governor and proud champion of the 1%, Greg Gianforte. Back then, to address the plight of his executives making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, he advocated eliminating the capital gains tax—and replacing Montana’s income tax with the most regressive kind of tax, a sales tax.
And after getting everything he wanted but the sales tax, he set up a satellite office in Texas for his highest-paid employees anyway.
And now he wants to do more damage. His 4-0-6 tax plan would blow another massive hole in the state’s budget for the sake of reducing the tax burden on himself, his wealthy friends, and huge companies, who would see almost all of the reductions. The Department of Revenue notes that Gianforte’s plan would cost the state $125 million a year, meaning even fewer resources to rebuild our crumbling roads and deficient schools.
Gianforte himself would get a tax break of over $75,000 annually. You and I might be able to buy a few more lattes.
Gianforte is just selling the Republican snake oil with tax cuts. He promises “tax relief” to entice voters, who perhaps don’t know that the vast majority of the relief will go to people who simply don’t need it, at the expense of the vital functions of government and community that taxes pay for.
And it simply won’t lead to the economic boom that Gianforte and his cronies claim it will. Just ask the people of Kansas, where job growth has been almost non-existent and school districts have had to shut down for a lack of funding. What Mr. Gianforte wants to do to Montana had led to a disaster for Kansas:
“Neighboring states have had more income tax revenue to make the public investment that improves quality of life. They’ve been able to support schools, safe communities, health care, roads and other essentials. Kansas, meanwhile, is seeing income tax revenue 11.6 percent below before the tax cuts were enacted.
While Mr. Gianforte might feel that the offer to give $100,000 if elected is a generous one, a more magnanimous offer would be to simply pay his fair share of taxes and not propose to do further damage to our state for the sake of a $75,000 tax cut he clearly doesn’t need.