HELENA– After three days of hearings and voting on a three-part solution for the state budget, the Montana Legislature concluded the 2017 Montana Special Session started this week. Before, during, and after the unique event, the Montana Chamber actively defended and promoted the interest of the business community.
“Overly-optimistic revenue estimates and catastrophic fire season expenses forced the special session,” said Webb Brown, president/CEO of the Montana Chamber. “Going forward, the tax study we have commissioned as part of our Envision 2026 research will help address some of these issues going forward.”
Through a combination of revenue enhancers, fund transfers, and government agency cuts, the Montana Legislature recovered its share of the $227 million necessary to balance the budget. The series of bills awaits Governor Bullock’s action.
The Montana Chamber opposed several anti-business bills in the special session. Two bills it opposed were SB 6 and SB 7, which would have temporarily increased the lodging/rental car tax and taxed third party intermediaries to pay/remit the lodging facility use tax. Another bill the Montana Chamber opposed was SB 4, which was the Montana State Fund management rate bill.
On Wednesday night, SB 6 and SB 7 were tabled in the Senate Taxation Committee. The Montana Chamber opposed these bills because it increased the cost of doing business in Montana. Recognizing the budget situation, the Montana Chamber recommended capturing revenue from the emerging, sharing economy in Airbnb and others as an alternative to the tax increases.
While the State Fund Bill initially failed on the House floor, it was revived and passed the House 71-29.
“SB 4 sets poor precedent because this bill allows the state to redirect policyholder money in a way that runs counter to its intended purpose,” said Bridger Mahlum, government relations director of the Montana Chamber.
“Whether we agree or disagree with their positions and votes, we commend all 150 legislators and the Capitol staff for putting in the long hours to achieve a balanced compromise in this special session,” he continued. “The disruption in their lives for little reward is greatly appreciated.”
Maintaining a strong business climate is essential to Envision 2026 , the Montana Chamber’s 10-year strategic plan for Montana’s future. Defending pro-business policy during this fast-paced special session was a critical component of that objective.
For Immediate Release
Nov. 16, 2017
Media Contact: Communications Director Alexandria Klapmeier
(C) 406-437-4634 or Alexandria@MontanaChamber.com
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