Governor Greg Gianforte appeared on the KGVO Talk Back program as part of his promise to appear monthly and answer questions from listeners.

Gianforte started by emphasizing his commitment to reducing the danger of wildfire in Montana forests.

“I made a commitment when I ran that we were going to start managing our forest again,” said Gianforte. :”With that in mind I've done a couple of visits out to some Good Neighbor Authority projects. I was in Helena and also up in Libby and Lincoln County. We're going to double the number of acres under active forest management this year because we've got a forest health crisis and we're sick and tired of breathing our forest every summer instead of going out and enjoying them.”

Also in the studio during Thursday’s Talk Back show was local CPA Walt Kero, who asked Gianforte about what he’s doing to lower taxes.

“We've lowered Montana's taxes by $120 million across the board, and we’ve lowered income taxes,” he said. “We've tripled the exemption for business equipment. We provided some modest broad based property tax relief, and we did all that while not really growing the budget, except we are putting money into trades education, and increasing starting teacher pay. “The biggest single new expenditure in our budget was $25 million to help with drug addiction.”

Gianforte shared a story of how out of touch previous governors have been with the people that serve in the state capitol.

“My first week in office, I started visiting agencies and just walking around and saying, hey, just cube to cube, my name is Greg,” he said. “I just started over at the Capitol and what's your name and how long you been here? What do you do? And in every single agency; I've been to Livestock, Commerce, Department of Labor, Revenue, and FWP. I've met employees who have been here 20 or 30 years, and in every single agency, they said, I've never seen a governor in this building.”

Gianforte also explained his role in the dispute between the legislature and the Montana Supreme Court.

“The system we had in place to pick Supreme Court justices was rigged by the trial lawyers,” he said. It's been that way for a long time and it was just not right. That's why I signed SB140. I have the authority under the Constitution to select interim judges. They're then confirmed by the Senate and then they have to stand for re election. There's a public input process. We're following this new law right now in Cascade County. We're not looking to pick conservatives or liberals. We just want people that are going to opine on the law and not legislate from the bench.”

The Montana Board of Regents recently found a District Court Judge willing to place a stay on new law to allow students to carry firearms on state college campuses.

 

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