Montana Public Radio

taxes

Lawmakers Consider Hiking "Bed Tax" And Rental Car Tax

Nov 14, 2017

Montana Legislators are considering a temporary increase in lodging and car rental taxes to preserve some government services slated to be cut to address Montana’s projected $227 million budget shortfall. It's part of a 3-prong approach sought by Governor Steve Bullock that also includes budget cuts and fund transfers during the special Legislative Session that officially convenes Tuesday.

GOP Budget Plan Hopes To 'Corral' Governor

Nov 13, 2017
Rep. Rob Cook
Montana Legislature

Shelby prison deal could be Bullock’s “one exit”

As state lawmakers lay the groundwork for a special legislative session to tackle Montana’s $227 budget shortfall, the proposed GOP deal for how to plug the gap is coming into focus.

At the same time, two independent sources have confirmed to the Montana Free Press that Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, in “in talks” with top executives of CoreCivic, the owners of a private prison in Shelby that is at the center of the 2017 special session’s most contentious proposal. CoreCivic is offering to return $30 million in state money set aside for the eventual purchase of the 664-bed prison in exchange for a 10-year renewal on its contract to operate the facility. That contract is up in 2019.

Montana Capitol in Helena.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers returned to Helena Monday to begin a special legislative session aimed at addressing the state's $227 million budget deficit. The governor has proposed filling the budget gap with a combination of cuts to state agencies and tax increases. But Republicans, who control both houses of the Legislature, have different plans.

A stack of logs.
(PD)

The Trump administration has issued the latest blow in a trade war between the United States and Canada. The fight is over lumber, and Yellowstone Public Radio’s Nate Hegyi explains, it could save timber jobs in Montana while creating a lot of uncertainty in Canada.

Office of the governor, budget and program planning.
William Marcus

The governor's office says a special legislative session could be called in the coming weeks as the administration and the conservative majority party inch closer to striking a deal on a plan to balance the state budget.

State Budget Director Dan Villa called reporters into his office Wednesday for a brief update on the ongoing political tug-of-war over state spending as Montana faces a $227 million revenue shortfall.

Annual Change In State Personal Income Adjusted For Inflation 2007-2016
Screen shot of Pew Charitable Trust Research

Montana is facing a state budget crisis. The state is projected to have about $200 million less than it needs to fund everything in the budget that lawmakers and the governor agreed to this year. That much is clear, but there's a lot of disagreement about why the $200 million hole is there, and what to do about it.

The budget that state lawmakers passed, and that Governor Steve Bullock signed, was based on forecasts that projected Montana's economy would generate a lot more tax revenue than it actually did. That budget is now falling apart.

But the Bullock administration continues to tout the strength of Montana's economy

Former Montana Senator Max Baucus' job as U.S. ambassador to China ended in January. He now divides his time between Missoula, Bozeman, and global public speaking engagements.

Baucus this week stopped by Montana Public Radio Studios to talk about China, The Affordable Care Act, and tax reform.

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) - Montana
U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Representative Greg Gianforte says he believes comprehensive tax reform is the best way to help Montanans keep more of their money. The Montana Republican made that remark Friday on the Northern Broadcasting System’s "Voices of Montana" radio program.

A crowd of more than 50 healthcare workers, patients, and advocates chanted outside the state capitol Tuesday afternoon protesting the Montana health department’s plan to reduce funding for Medicaid services.

They came for their first opportunity to testify before a legislative committee that’s also questioning the priorities of Governor Steve Bullock’s administration as it trims the state budget in the face of a continuing state revenue shortfall.

Revenue generated from the increased gas tax Montana lawmakers passed last year collected more than $6 million in its first four months.
Rusty Clark (CC-BY-NC-2)

Gas and diesel prices ticked up over the weekend as a new state tax went into effect. The new tax will increase every July 1 for the next six years, to fund maintenance on bridges and roads across the state.

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