Local government fed up with state leaders
Photo illustration by Getty Images.
It’s truly bizarre to see local governments revolting against and threatening to sue the state when Republicans hold every statewide office but one in Montana, a super-majority in the Legislature, and Greg Gianforte in the governor’s office.
Why? Because local governments have had it with “government overreach” by the Legislature that limits local governments on tax levies, but not what the state can charge.
Of course “government overreach” has long been used as a rallying cry by Republicans, particularly when there’s any effort to regulate what all of us have in common — the clean air and clean water we need to survive, and the forests and river ecosystems that government is supposed to be protecting under its public trust obligations.
In a recent article, longtime Beaverhead County Commissioner Mike McGinley put it very succinctly: “Property taxpayers all are having a heart attack because their property taxes are going up so fast.”
According to McGinley and his fellow county commissioners across the state: “It’s just how much money we’re going to put in the state’s pocket when they’re sitting on a $2 billion surplus, and it comes on the backs of the Montana taxpayers.”
And so Montanans are left hanging again, as Knudsen’s office refuses to reply to either the press or the counties. In the meantime, the response coming from the governor’s office claims the law on whether or not it can reduce its mill levies is “muddy.” Not so says McGinley: “This isn’t muddy. This is crystal clear to crazy county commissioners like me.”
George Ochenski is a longtime Helena resident, an environmental activist and Montana’s longest-running columnist.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.