Governor's plan an insult to taxpayers
The residents of Eastern Montana have for quite some time felt neglected or overlooked by the Governor, located in Helena, and his lack of interest in the balance of the state. The region has vast resources in the order of oil and gas and they have generated both job opportunities and tax revenue that has benefited the entire state. These opportunities could be multiplied dramatically if only some foresight, vision and proper investments into infrastructure were made.
Prior to the last legislative session I undertook an awareness campaign to introduce the balance of the legislators to both the opportunities and challenges facing the region. That included a bus tour for a substantial number of legislators and presentations before the Montana Association of Counties the Montana League of Cities and Towns and the Montana Legislature. Extensive time was spent preparing and promoting legislation that would provide additional funding for infrastructure that would allow the private sector to make additional investments into our state. That legislation would have used funds from revenue that was generated by the same oil and gas production that it would support, without raising taxes. It would have done so without placing a burden of debt on our state. One hundred and forty two (142) out of one hundred and fifty (150) legislators supported this legislation only to have it vetoed by Governor Bullock. He cited duplicative funding sources, his desire to borrow the money instead of using the available funds, and the need to maintain a minimal of $300 million as an ending fund balance as his reasoning. Many of the legislators throughout the state continued to support the legislation and argued that the revenue estimates provided were low and that funds would be available for the investments.
Now we are told what we expected all along. There will most likely be OVER $500 million in an ending fund balance. So when I heard that Governor Bullock had scheduled several press conferences in Eastern Montana to address infrastructure needs, I was pleased. You can imagine my shock and disappointment as citizens were told that even though the state will have over $500 million in the bank after all bills are paid, Governor Bullock still feels that the $45 million dedicated for infrastructure needs should be borrowed. That is an insult to the very people who have made considerable contributions to the very large bank account that Governor Bullock will no doubt try to spend during the 2015 legislative session. One can only hope he begins with some tax relief for all of the citizens of Montana. But, based on previous experience, I wouldn’t count on it.
Senator Matt Rosendale