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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Montanans Support Property Tax Funding For Higher Education, Poll Shows

Grizzly statue and Main Hall on the University of Montana campus in Missoula.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio
Grizzly statue and Main Hall on the University of Montana campus in Missoula.

A newly-released poll says almost three-quarters of Montanans say they would vote to continue a property tax that keeps tuition low for state college and university students. That’s according to the University of Montana Big Sky Poll conducted earlier this year by Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Master of Public Administration program.

The telephone survey conducted in February included 603 Montana registered voters.

"We did a representative random sample of voters in Montana," Rinfret says.

The poll asked if Montanans would vote for or against continuing the existing 6-Mill property tax levy that will be on the ballot this fall. It must be renewed every decade and has supported the university system since 1948. It is set to expire in January 2019.

72 percent of those polled said they would vote in favor of continuing the 6-Mill Levy. That’s a sharp increase in support from 2008 when 56.8 percent voted in favor of the tax.

Rinfret says not a lot of polls have been conducted on the tax.

The Big Sky Poll will continue to gage public support for continuing the tax before the coming election.

"At the time we did not have the ballot language but now we do and and we’ll use the actual ballot language and re-poll the question in September."

Tax proponents say if voters don’t approve continuing the 6-mill levy, it could cost the University System an estimated $20 million a year.

Maxine is the All Things Considered host and reporter for MTPR. She got her start at MTPR as a Montana News intern. She has also worked at KUNC in Northern Colorado and for Pacific Standard magazine as an editorial fellow covering wildfire and the environment.
Maxine graduated from the University of Montana with a master's degree in natural resource journalism and has a degree in creative writing from Vassar College. When she’s not behind the microphone you can find Maxine skiing, hiking with her not-so-well-behaved dogs, or lost in a book.
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