Speaking to Greg Gianforte for the first time since he won the gubernatorial election over Mike Cooney, KGVO asked the governor-elect several questions as he prepares to take office in January.

Gianforte described the reasoning behind the creation of a COVID 19 Task Force, even before he takes office.

“Of course, we need the input from public health officials and the medical community, but we need to bring other voices to the table,” he said. “That includes our K through 12 educators, our business community, local government, and the tribal governments. What this COVID 19 taskforce is really designed to do is to make sure everybody's voice gets heard. So when we adopt policy, we can balance the health risks with the economic risks with those impacts on our families.”

Gianforte emphasized that county health officers should not have the only voice in dictating state policy.

“Let me just say the voice of our public health officials needs to be heard, but it can't be the only voice,” he said. “That's why we put this taskforce together because parents need to be represented in the discussion teachers, local governments, the business community, I have a representative from Big Sky and we're going to have a lot of people flying here on airplanes this winter to go skiing. We want to adopt policy to keep the public safe, but to the extent possible, get our economy open back up so we can go on with our economic lives as well.”

Gianforte addressed Governor Bullock’s upcoming announcement of the state’s 2021 budget proposals.

“The Governor is going to release his budget early next week, but we're going to take a look at that I'm sure some modifications are going to be required,” he said. “We need to get something that is aligned with the Montana Comeback Plan that we laid out over the summer. This means slowing the growth of spending so that we can provide tax relief. I’m thrilled that Kristen Juris is going to head up an effort to do a top to bottom regulatory review on every state agency. We’ll need help from the legislature in getting some of the excessive regulations repealed. So anyway, there's a lot of work to do.”

Gianforte addressed the issue of property taxes that are rising rapidly.

“This was a change that was made a few years back and it added a huge burden on the state to reevaluate all real estate every two years as opposed to six years previously,” he said. “We’ll take a look at that. I'm looking forward to having a robust discussion on all these topics. I am committed to getting property taxes down, at least the extent that they are state-related. The challenge is that most of the property taxes you pay are local taxes.”

Gianforte made a pledge to appear on a regular basis on KGVO to address Missoula residents and take calls from listeners.


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