Capping double-digit Montana property tax increases on homeowners would seem like an obvious problem for legislative candidates. Not so. The goal of Republicans and Democrats is to protect government cash flow and appease wealthy special interests.
The Bipartisan Interim Revenue Committee unanimously opposed the Cl-121 Cap Montana property tax initiative. Their members think it’s best to let the legislature/lobbyist cabal handle your money.
Their two main rationales for opposing Cl-121 are that the Montana Constitution is no place for tax policy. Indeed, Article 8 Sec. 3 of the Montana Constitution imposes residential taxation at appraised value. Cl-121 simply amends this provision to cap tax increases on established residences, and then new residences, to a maximum of 2% per year. No amendment to the constitution means no significant change.
Before the vote, the committee held an information round table. Only Cl-121 opponents were part of the “information committee”. A public bond expert testified that the only thing that worked was “unlimited taxing authority”. No legislator has challenged this concept.
Are you counting on the legislature to fix skyrocketing property taxes? The laughter you hear comes from the lobbyists who oppose Cl-121. The problem has gotten worse since 2012 and exploded since 2019, but lawmakers refused to even tackle the problem in 2021. Why should we trust them now?
All presenters claimed scorched earth scenarios if residential taxes are not continually doubled. Spending cuts were never discussed. Montana families were only mentioned as cash cows for government funding.
There is a Political Action Committee opposed to Cl-121, Cap Mt. Property Taxes. Their members include labor unions, government entities and liberal lobbyists who historically lobby against tax cuts and support more spending. They also include self-proclaimed “pro-business” groups that historically advocate for more spending and against tax cuts.
Specifically, the Montana Chamber of Commerce (which advocates a general sales tax) and its members, the Montana Bankers Assn., the Montana Association of Realtors (they pledge to defeat Cl-121 to protect their commissions), the Montana Contractors Assn., and the Montana Farm Bureau. They amassed an $85,000 war chest and hired political consultants to keep property taxes up.
The other thing they share is that they all have PACs, using fictitious names like Realtors for Better Government, who join with other PACs, also with fictitious names, to fund the Super PAC-Jobs For Montana who opposes social and fiscal conservative candidates running for the Legislature, facing or facing liberal Republican candidates.
We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars in third-party spend per race targeted. This protects the caucus from “conservative” solutions which then give money and political power to their benefactors. Raise your hand if you think they’re building a war chest to defend Montana families.
The CI-121 has $919 in its war chest. We cannot do this alone. Join the fight.
Sen. Brad Molnar, R-Laurel, sits on the tax committee, served eight years on the Public Service Commission and is serving a limited term from Montana House.