If we have learned anything about Greg Gianforte during the four elections he’s run during the past four years, it’s that he’ll say anything—no matter how demonstrably false—to improve his chances of election. He’s back at this in his latest campaign for governor, falsely claiming that Montana’s business climate has “chased many corporations out of state,” despite the fact that even conservative organizations cite Montana as one of the best states in the country for business climate.
In an interview with Voices of Montana on January 10 (captured by American Bridge) Gianforte repeated one of the lies he’s relied on since his first failed bid for governor, stating “We have very little corporate tax revenue in Montana because, honestly, anti-business policies have chased many corporations out of the state.”
It’s just not true. As the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation noted in its 2020 report, Montana has the 5th most-friendly business tax structure in the country.
Gianforte has been repeating his lie about our business climate since at least 2002 when he told the Montana legislature that he saw imposing a sales tax on Montanans as “an ideal solution” for businesses. Readers of this blog might remember the reason that Gianforte called for a sales tax: the plight of corporate executives that he was paying $300,000 a year almost two decades ago before outsourcing their jobs to Texas to reduce their tax burden.
That’s what Gianforte means when he talks about business climate: the salaries of corporate middle managers who want to enjoy the beauty of Montana without paying their fair share for the infrastructure that lets them bring their businesses here, the schools that educate their future workers so well, or the first responders who will protect their lives and investments.
And that’s why it’s so galling for Gianforte to continue his lie about Montana’s business climate. He’s telling the lie so that he can sell even larger tax cuts to businesses and the wealthiest among us, no matter the cost of ordinary Montanans.
In fact, he’s promising Republican voters a 30 percent tax cut if elected.
Even his fellow Republicans realize he can’t be trusted, and that the cuts he’s promising would be devastating.
Former State Senator Walt McNutt told the Havre Daily News just how devastating Gianforte’s tax cut would be:
Of state taxes, 51 percent and 70 percent of property taxes pay for Montana’s education services. K-12 schools spend most of their budget on teacher salaries.
Gianforte and his team are not public education supporters, but still it’s difficult to believe they could expect successful student outcomes after chopping teachers’ salaries or cutting teachers by 30 percent.[…] The second largest budget expenditure in government is health care: hospitals, nursing homes, mental health, child protection. What if Montana were forced to close 10-30 percent of our nursing homes and hospitals? The third largest government budget expenditure is public safety: police, fire, ambulance and prison services. Would you want ambulance, fire, police and snowplowing services reduced 30 percent in your community? Should we release 30 percent of those currently incarcerated? ”
Former Republican Chair of the House Health and Services Committee told the Independent Record that Gianforte’s cuts would devastate healthcare for the most vulnerable:
I am a rancher, registered nurse, past Republican Chair of the Montana Legislature’s Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee and a senior citizen…. A fundamental conservative principle is to care for our children, our elderly and vulnerable citizens. Montana is so rural it is designated a Frontier State. Most Montana citizens are not wealthy. Gianforte’s proposed 30% tax cut, if enacted, would devastate the ability to provide Health Services to our most vulnerable citizens.
It’s not just that Gianforte can’t seem to stop lying about the business climate in Montana, likely harming it by using his platform to spread misinformation that could keep businesses out. It’s not just that his lie is intended to help get him elected. It’s that his lie could serve as the foundation for tax policy that would replicate the Kansas disaster, badly damage our economy, schools. and health.
Just imagine what would happen to the business climate in Montana if Gianforte’s dream or poorer schools and decreased public safety came to fruition?
We can’t trust Greg Gianforte to tell the truth, and we damn sure can’t trust him to impose a tax policy built on that lie and the belief that Montanans should pay sales tax to ease the burden on millionaires like him