I have no problem with an organization that promotes networking and marketing, and advocates for area businesses.
I do have a problem with an organization that advances an anti-environment, anti-worker and subsequently, anti-community agenda. The Montana Chamber of Commerce does just that.
The Chamber’s most recent gaffe is it’s endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte. From a story by MTN’s Mike Dennison:
“We think Gov. Bullock has done a good job; we think Greg Gianforte would do a great job,” says Webb Brown, president of the Montana Chamber of Commerce. “I think (business) folks recognize that he was a very successful entrepreneur and business person, and recognize that he understands how to get things done.”
They also like his proposals to eliminate the property tax on business equipment and roll back bothersome regulations.
Let’s roll back the business equipment tax, again, for the largest Montana corporations, and get rid of those burdensome public health, safety and employee rights regulations. Here’s the corporate tax burden as examined in a Billings Gazette editorial:
Two decades ago, Montana’s business equipment tax was well above 10 percent. It has been whittled down by bipartisan legislation. The most recent reduction was in 2013, which eliminated the tax for two-thirds of the Montana businesses that had been paying, and gave the remaining businesses a tax cut.
That law reduced the property tax on business equipment in two ways, reducing tax revenues about $9 million the first year. It exempted the first $100,000 worth of business equipment from taxes, up from $20,000. It also reduced the tax rate to 1.5 percent on the first $6 million worth of equipment. The previous tax rate was 2 percent on the first $2 million and 3 percent on the remaining value of equipment.
I wish I could get that kind of deal on my home property taxes.
In the recent past, the Montana Chamber of Commerce has come out against cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It’s against raising the minimum wage. It looks to the private sector (big insurance) as the solution to our failing health care system.
That’s why, when I was more involved in Missoula small businesses, I was active in the Sustainable Business Council. The SBC promoted buy local campaigns, energy audits, reducing waste and “creating a vibrant local economy built around sustainable practices.”
One thing the SBC did not do was get involved in electoral politics. After all, a sustainable economy and environment shouldn’t be a political issue. Apparently it is with the U.S. and Montana Chamber of Commerce. They’re agin ’em.
(I should mention that I have no bone to pick with my local Chamber. It does what I’ve mentioned at the top of this post — networking, marketing and advocating on behalf of area businesses — and it generally stays out of politics.)
The state and national Chamber, however, shill for the largest corporations to the detriment of any business concerned with the environment, their workers and long-range sustainability.
The Montana Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of Gianforte is irresponsible on so many levels. Here’s just one more: incumbent governor Steve Bullock, who hasn’t been bad for business, is looking good for a second term. The wise move by the Chamber would be to keep its mouth shut.