Montana Governor Calls Commissioner’s Comments ‘Smoke and Mirrors’
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On Wednesday, Commissioner Josh Slotnick told KGVO News about a lawsuit against Missoula County regarding its intention to reduce the 95 mills of property tax funds mandated by the state to just under 80 mills, as more than 50 other counties plan to do in order to reduce the burden on residential property taxpayers, and that Missoula was the only county named in the action.
On Thursday, KGVO News received information from a spokesperson in Governor Greg Gianforte’s office about the court action.
Response from Governor on Counties Plan to Reduce Payments to State
In the release, the spokesperson stated that ‘As the state understood it at the time of the filing, and which the filing makes clear, Missoula was the first county on record intending to cut the 95 public school equalization mills.
The state seeks clarification from the court about the 95 public school equalization mills. The Gianforte administration is working to do what’s been done for the last 30 years, since the start of the 95 public school equalization mills – collect the mills in full to fund our schools and make sure every Montana kid has a quality education.’
The Statement said the Plan would Damage Public Schools
In addition, the release stated the move would damage public schools.
‘First, cutting the public school mills will defund our public schools and ultimately put the burden back on Montana homeowners.
Second, cutting those mills will hurt our public schools, Montana students, and ultimately, Montana homeowners – all to the benefit of large industrial corporations and rich out-of-staters with mansions in private resorts.
An average Montana homeowner will get enough back to buy two cups of coffee a month.
The Statement said the Plan would Further Burden Montana Taxpayers
A Californian who has a mansion worth $20 million at a private resort will get more than $5,000, and ten of the biggest corporations in the state will save more than $10 million a year. If the 95 public school equalization mills aren’t collected, hardworking Montanans who pay income taxes will pay the bill that wealthy out-of-staters and big corporations would otherwise pay.’
In addition, the release states that the effort to reduce the mills is ‘smoke and mirrors’.
‘Efforts to cut the 95 public school mills is smoke and mirrors that fails to recognize two central truths.
Residential homeowners will get more than double from Governor Gianforte’s and Republican legislators’ property tax relief measures ($383 million) than what they will see in expected property tax increases over the next two years, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division.
Some who seek to cut the 95 public school mills are using it as a distraction from their record of raising spending and Montanans’ property taxes for decades.
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division, between Tax Year 2001 and Tax Year 2020,
- 3.022% -- average annual growth rate for the state’s population and inflation (combined)
- 3.486% -- average annual growth rate for the state’s property taxes (95 public school equalization mills)
- 5.742% -- average annual growth rate for Missoula County’s property taxes
Missoula County’s average annual rate of growth in property taxes is nearly double the average annual rate of growth for the state’s population and inflation combined.’
In closing, the statement said that Governor Gianforte is 'committed to long-term reforms to rein in the growth in property taxes'.
KGVO News has also reached out to Montana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen about what effect the reduction in mills would have on the state’s public schools.
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