Tax Cuts Advance Even As Ending Fund Balance Remains Unknown
The Republican-controlled legislature is closer to sending another tax cut proposal to Democratic Governor Steve Bullock’s desk. The governor has already vetoed one tax cut measure.
Senate Bill 200 would reduce the income tax rates and broaden the tax brackets. The bill also reduces the capital gains tax credit rate.
Because of the later impact, Republican Representative Jeff Essmann spoke against the bill.
"I know that the goal of this is to reduce taxes for many Montanans, but out of respect for my hardworking fellow brethren small business, farm and ranches in this state I’ve got to be a no because I think its penalizing these hardworking people."
Democrats were the other opponents. House Minority Leader Chuck Hunter says these tax cuts come as the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee is refusing to fully fund essential services.
"Once those obligations are satisfied, then we can ask ourselves the question, ‘Well is there excess?’ And if there is excess, what should we do with that excess," Hunter argued.
This posturing disguises the priority differences between the political parties, says Representative Rob Cook. The Republican from Conrad carried Senate Bill 200 on the House Floor.
"Talking about ending fund balances and the apocalyptic end of the world and all of the sorts of things that we talk about are really just there because we have different priorities. Tax relief is our priority, our mission," Cook said. "The time is now."
Representatives gave preliminary approval to Senate Bill 200 basically on a party-line vote. Republican Jeff Essmann joined all 41 Democrats in voting no.
The measure was re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee to consider the fiscal ramifications. If passed it will return to the House for a third and final vote. Then it will be sent to the governor’s desk.