Taxes, Bureaucracy and more Governor Gianforte is great for MT
Governor Greg Gianforte talked to the Pat & Randy Morning show on 560 KMON after his state of the state address Wednesday night. Here is the interview.
Governor Gianforte: Pat and Randy, good to be with you.
Pat: A good speech last night. This state is roaring right now, isn't it?
Governor Gianforte: Well, we've been making progress. I think we still have some challenges ahead of us, but we laid out an ambitious agenda two years ago and we've been executing and a couple of highlights. We made a couple of announcements last night. 1st, 15 new businesses have moved to Montana. Those 15 businesses alone are creating 900 jobs. And in total in the last two years, the private sector in Montana, because of our pro-business policies, we've created 31,000 new jobs just in the last two years. The most ever in any two year period in the history of the state.
Pat: And our unemployment rate, I think, is 2.8%, one of the lowest in the country.
Governor Gianforte: Yeah, that's right. And we're getting people back to work. I mean, there's still Help Wanted signs on Main Street. I talked about that last night. That's why we've been really investing in apprenticeships and upskilling and bringing innovation back to education so we can get our workforce matched with the marketplace.
Randy: One of the things that really will help agriculture is some of the tax reform you've done, the business tax and those types of things. Talk about that if you would, please.
Governor Gianforte: Yeah, so as I've traveled the state and I get to all 56 counties every year, I hear loud and clear tax relief is a priority. And that's why we're cutting taxes again, specifically for AG. In the 2021 session we tripled the exemption for business equipment. We moved it from $100,000 to $300,000. In this session we're proposing moving it all the way up to a million dollars for every small business farm and ranch in the state. This will take 5000 farms, ranches and Main Street businesses off the business equipment tax entirely. And here's the plain fact Montanan’s overpaid their taxes. We're going to give it back.
Pat: How will they get that back, Governor?
Governor Gianforte: Well, there's a couple of components to it. Some of it is permanent tax relief, like the business equipment tax. We're going to move the exemption up to a million dollars. That will go on until some future legislature changes it or we raise the exemption again. We have proposed rebates directly to homeowners over the next two years. This is exactly that, just a rebate for Montana residents who are in their primary home. The legislature is also considering a bill that would also rebate additional money specifically to people who have paid income tax. But I believe it's also essential that we reduce the income tax rate as well. We're the highest one in the Rocky Mountain region. When I came in it was 6.9% last session, we moved it to 6.5 in this session, and I’ve asked the legislature to give me a bill that will bring it down to 5.9%. And that's the rate that most Montanans pay. Once you make $19,000 a year, you're paying that rate. And so that will give permanent relief on income tax.
Randy: When you say rebate, governor, is that a direct check back to the individual or is that a tax credit that will come off of a future tax bill?
Governor Gianforte: Yeah, it's a rebate check that will get mailed out in October. Another thing that's going on the property tax, the bill that's in front of the legislature right now would send a $500 check to every Montana homeowner in October of 2023 and another $500 in October of 2024.
Pat: One other issue, and it's kind of a sad issue in Montana, is the health department announced that we had 28 overdoses and eight deaths just in the last two weeks with fentanyl. How are you and the attorney general working to help fix that issue?
Governor Gianforte: Well, there's really three prongs. Number one, I was very clear last night, understand fentanyl is primarily manufactured by Mexican drug cartels with ingredients provided by China. And they're coming across our porous southern border. So number one, I called on Joe Biden and the US. Congress last night to secure our southern border. It's just ripping our communities apart. Secondly, here in Montana, we're going to invest. I've proposed to expand capacity at Deer lodge so we can lock up these drug dealers. I've worked with the attorney general to add in the budget additional state troopers, investigators, and prosecutors so we can go after these drug dealers. But then the third point is just as important for people trapped in addiction. We need to get them into treatment so they can get sober, get clean, and get healthy. And I was pleased to have sheriff Slaughter from Cascade County with me last night in the capitol, we rolled out our angel initiative. That was an initiative of our administration, and Sheriff Slaughter was the first one to sign up. We now have 20 counties, and that's a simple program working with law enforcement. Anyone trapped in addiction can walk into a participating law enforcement office and say, I need help, and they've committed. As long as there's no other outstanding warrants, we're going to get them right into treatment and get them healthy.
Randy: Governor, you've been working on the red tape initiative to try and cut the bureaucracy. There's a lot of good things in that. Talk about that.
Governor Gianforte: Well, this was something I asked Lieutenant Governor Juris to do. She's been remarkable. She has not left no stone unturned. Right now in front of the legislature, we have over 160 red tape relief bills. And these are just fixing stuff. Pat and Randy it's sort of like we've been adding laws and adding laws and regulations and all this stuff for decades. Sort of like we're remodeling a house. And when we started peeling it back, we found shag carpet with linoleum on top and then hardwood on top of that. So it's just bad. So we went through every line again, 160 bills, I'm pleased to report, because she did her job so well. More than half of those bills have already been voted out of the House or the Senate, and they're on their way to my desk. And this is going to provide real red tape relief to the people of Montana.
Pat: Governor, before we go, help me out here. I want to understand why you blocked what we call ESG investing. What is ESG investing and why did you block it?
Governor Gianforte: This is a movement by East Coast and West Coast elites to use your retirement dollars to implement their political agenda. Very simply, ESG stands for environmental and social governance, and this is a trend in these woke investment houses. They're trying to pressure companies first, to not use fossil fuels because of the climate. And secondly, they're boycotting firearms and ammunition manufacturers. I was down at the Shot Show last week in Las Vegas and one Montana firearm manufacturer told me they had been banking with a national bank 27 years and they refused to give them a loan because of ESG and they said, even if you only manufactured a screw that went into a Flint Lock, we wouldn't bank you because you're in the firearms industry. That's ESG. That's woke political agenda. So what we did, working with the Board of Investments, we said, listen, we're not going to let the ESG reduce financial returns for Montanan's and place political agenda over financial returns. So we pulled back all the proxy voting on $26 billion of state retirement funds and state resources. And it was just the right thing to do, because that money should be invested on behalf of Hardworking Montanans to make sure their pensions are there, not because somebody's trying to implement their woke political policy.
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