Governor sticks to tax and spend

Sunday, February 10, 2019
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Guest Opinion

(Last) week the Governor gave an address in which he outlined his plan to tax and spend on the backs of working Montana families. He would like to cushion his state checkbook to the tune of $300 million by taking $150 million from Montanans checking accounts and putting it into his state checking account. Montanans clearly spoke last November at the ballot box, when they voted down a tax increase on tobacco products. Yet, this Governor has come to the legislature a short two months after this idea was rejected to propose the same tax.

Along those same lines the Governor is out of step again with the majority of Montanans when he refuses to discuss any sort of work requirements for Medicaid expansion participants. A recent poll by MTN-MSU showed that 76 percent of Montanans agreed that some form of work requirement was appropriate for those in public funded Medicaid. His proposal does not include reforms such as work requirements or a sunset date for re-evaluation, but does include an increase in taxes.

As Speaker of the House, it is my job to look at our finite resources and determine the best way to use them. When we spend money on one program it is not available for another essential program. The discussion on state funded preschool falls into this category. The Governor would like to allocate $30 million taxpayer dollars toward a statewide preschool program. At the same time, schools themselves are telling us that they need more money for things like special education, school safety and job training. As a grandfather I too dream of my grandchildren having the best opportunities they can be afforded, but not at the cost of funding essential needs and projects for our entire state.

The Governor’s State of the State address revealed one clear message. He wants to continue his tax and spend policies. The Governor claims the state of the state is stronger than ever yet he is proposing $160Million in new taxes from our hard working Montana families. Montana is in a strong state in spite of the Governor and in large part due to the Republican legislature pushing back on his tax and spend policies.

Greg Hertz is the Speaker of the Montana House.