Montana Governor Talks China Balloon, Rebate Checks, and Housing
One asked about the chain of command when the Chinese spy balloon traversed the state and was eventually shot down over the Atlantic Ocean.
Gianforte said he was ultimately disappointed in the reaction by the U.S. government.
“I did not get notified until the balloon, and it was pretty slow flying, until it was hundreds of miles into the state of Montana before we got notified,” began Governor Gianforte. “Our notification came from the Pentagon through the State National Guard. And when I first got the noticed, they said we're going to take it out of the sky and just to hold onto your horses here. And then nothing happened.”
As he maintained during the incident, Gianforte said the balloon should have been shot down over Montana’s mostly open airspace.
“I did not get notified right away,” he said. “I was very clear in my communications with the White House that if something violates our airspace, our national security, then we need to take it out of the sky. Not to do so jeopardizes our national security and it also emboldens our enemies. And this is just not something we can tolerate.”
The governor was asked about the status of the refund checks that have been proposed due to the fact that Montanans vastly overpaid their taxes in the past two years.
“This is a top priority for us,” he said. “We overcharged the people of Montana and we need to give it back. The rebate checks for property tax will go out in October of this year 2023, and again in October of 2024. We asked for $1,000 this year and $1,000 next year.”
Gianforte spoke of bills making their way through the legislative session and one in particular that will help build more homes and subdivisions and keep infrastructure costs down, acting from recommendations from the Governor’s Housing Task Force.
“In our budget, we proposed $200 million in a low interest revolving loan fund available to counties like Missoula where they're going to put in new subdivisions,” he said. “But we do require if they use this low interest money that these new subdivisions be contiguous with existing municipal water and sewer, and that it accommodate higher density. This is going to bring the cost of these homes down. That's one example of something very tangible that came out of the Housing Task Force and I'm looking forward to the legislature getting into my desk so I can sign it into law.”
The governor also responded to comments from former Governor Marc Racicot taking the Republican Party to task for being too far to the right, saying that the state is prospering, more jobs are being created and taxes are being lowered.