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Governor unveils pro-family, pro-jobs budget

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News from the office of Governor Gianforte

HELENA — Governor Greg Gianforte today unveiled his “Budget for Montana Families,” a historic pro-family, pro-jobs budget for the State of Montana for the next biennium.

Governor Gianforte’s “Budget for Montana Families” provides $1 billion in income and property tax relief to Montanans in the largest tax cut in state history. The budget also invests in infrastructure, state-run facilities, education, and safer communities through more law enforcement and treatment programs.

Additionally, the budget makes the State of Montana debt-free in 2023, paying off all general obligation debt and saving taxpayers $40 million over the next two years.

“When it comes down to it, our budget is built for hardworking Montana families,” Governor Gianforte said. “In this budget, we are cutting their income and property taxes by $1 billion, providing a child tax credit and adoption tax credit to make it easier for parents to raise their kids, and investing to make our schools better and communities safer.”

Gianforte’s budget provides Montanans with $500 million in permanent income tax cuts and $500 million in property tax relief over the next two years.

The governor’s budget reduces the income tax rate most Montanans pay from 6.5% to 5.9%. The budget also provides families with a $1,200 child tax credit for children under six years of age, as well as a $5,000 adoption tax credit to make it easier for Montanans to open their homes to children.

“Taken together – our income tax cuts, child tax credit, and adoption tax credit deliver a historic, largest-ever income tax cut, totaling more than $500 million over the next two years,” Gov. Gianforte said. 

The governor also announced $500 million in property tax relief for Montanans’ primary residences over the next two years.

Recognizing the overwhelming bulk of property taxes go to local government, the governor called for property tax reforms, including greater transparency and accountability in local government spending, an option to pay property taxes monthly, and greater fiscal responsibility from local governments.

“Local governments should not spend and tax Montanans out of their home,” Gov. Gianforte said.

After providing Montanans with $1 billion in tax relief, the governor’s budget invests the state’s surplus to make repairs, save for emergencies, and pay off debt.

The governor’s budget makes the biggest ever investment in the state’s behavioral health system. The $300 million investment will fund improvements and repairs at Montana State Hospital, intensive behavioral health care, and community-based services for out-patient care across the state. The governor’s budget also boosts funding by 50% for the governor’s HEART Fund initiative and permanently funds eight drug treatment courts that are losing federal funding.

Repairing another long-neglected state facility, the governor’s budget invests nearly $200 million to repair and ultimately expand capacity at the Montana State Prison. 

The budget also invests $200 million to expand water and sewer infrastructure to help increase housing supply and Montanans’ access to affordable housing, as well as $100 million to repair roads and bridges.

To guard against economic uncertainty and once-in-a-generation inflation, the governor’s budget doubles the state’s rainy-day fund. It also nearly triples Montana’s fire suppression fund and invests $10 million per year to expand the scope of active forest management.

The governor’s budget makes Montana debt-free in 2023, paying off all general obligation debt and saving Montana taxpayers approximately $40 million over the biennium.

In addition to cutting Montanans’ income and property taxes by $1 billion and using the state’s surplus responsibly, the governor’s budget spurs job creation, boosts education and grows opportunity for Montanans.

First, the budget expands the business equipment tax exemption from $300,000 to $1 million, eliminating the business equipment tax burden for more than 5,000 small businesses, farms, and ranches since 2021.

Second, the governor’s budget nearly doubles the Montana Trades Education Credit for employers to send their employees to learn a trade.

Third, the budget doubles the cap of the Big Sky Scholarship to ensure students have access to the best education possible, and increases funding by 40% for the TEACH Act to increase starting teacher pay.

To combat crime and keep drugs out of Montana communities, the governor’s budget funds 16 new highway patrol officers and criminal investigators, as well as six new prosecutors at the Montana Department of Justice. The criminal investigation agents will focus on drug trafficking, human trafficking, narcotics, major crimes and crimes against children. The new highway patrol officers will strengthen the state’s drug interdiction programs.

Holding the line on spending well below inflation, the governor’s budget is balanced, avoids cuts to essential services, and has a strong ending fund balance to protect against economic and financial uncertainty.

“Montana taxpayers entrust us to be good stewards of their hard-earned dollars. I’m proud our budget, built for hardworking Montana families, fulfills that trust,” the governor concluded. 

The governor’s “Budget for Montana Families” was formally released on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

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