Economy

Outlook for a $15-an-hour minimum wage boosted by government report

BY: - February 8, 2021

WASHINGTON—The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in a report Monday found a gradual increase to a $15 federal minimum wage by 2025 would reduce poverty, add $54 billion to the deficit over a decade and increase pay for millions of low-income workers. The report could help Democrats make a strong case for including a gradual federal minimum wage […]

‘Zoom boom’ housing demand may be here for years

BY: and - February 7, 2021

It hit Billings real estate broker Mark Dawson in a furniture store, of all places. The owner of one of the largest brokerages in Montana’s largest city, Century 21 Hometown, Dawson was discussing Billings with a furniture salesperson as he was shopping. Turns out, business was booming for both of them. That’s when the salesperson […]

Bill to limit income tax and remove property or sales tax returns

BY: - February 3, 2021

Editor’s note: The head line of this story has been corrected to reflect the bill’s intent.  A proposal to ask the voters to limit the state of Montana to two of three sources of tax revenue has returned this session, offering an alternative to the state’s current tax structure that could have huge implications for […]

Inclusionary zoning on the chopping block in House

BY: - February 2, 2021

Montana realtors and home builders are gathering behind a bill that would effectively ban one of the tools that cities and towns use to create more affordable housing.  House Bill 259, carried by House Majority Leader Sue Vinton, specifically prevents municipalities in Montana from requiring that housing is sold at a certain price or targeted […]

COMMENTARY

O’Loughlin: HB162 won’t help Montana’s lowest-income seniors

BY: - January 29, 2021

Nearly every session a bill comes before the Legislature seeking to further exempt Social Security income from Montana income tax, and every session the Montana Budget & Policy Center opposes. Why? Montana already exempts the majority of Social Security income from state tax, and our system largely mirrors the federal exemption structure. Today, for the […]

Montana Chamber backs student loan bill

BY: - January 28, 2021

The most common sign a business will post in Montana these days – besides “Masks Required” – is “Help Wanted.” “Recruiting and retaining workers is emerging as the No. 1 challenge for Montana businesses,” said the Montana Chamber of Commerce’s Bridger Mahlum, who made the comment this week about signs. Mahlum was among proponents of […]

Gianforte-backed pay increase for state employees passes House

BY: - January 28, 2021

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the Montana House approved a plan Thursday that would raise the pay of state employees by 55 cents per hour beginning in the 2023 fiscal year. The bill, the result of negotiations between former Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, and public sector unions, would hold constant public employee pay […]

Is density the solution to Montana’s affordability problem?

BY: - January 27, 2021

A Montana lawmaker is pushing a solution called “upzoning” to the state’s housing affordability crisis. This movement, popular in a number of areas with urbanists, housing advocates and the Twitterati, would apply to many of the state’s fast-growing municipalities, whether or not they’re on board. Upzoning is the process of tinkering with zoning codes in […]

Montana Dems roll out 3 bills to cut taxes

BY: - January 21, 2021

Montana Democrats and Republicans agree on one thing – Montanans need tax cuts. Beyond that, there are a number of proposals and plans, including Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s, on how to achieve lowering taxes and still end up with a constitutionally-mandated balanced budget. Previously, Gianforte presented his budget to the lawmakers, and it held the […]

Legislative efforts to protect trailer park residents from eviction show mixed results

BY: - January 19, 2021

The plight of residents in mobile home communities has caught the attention of state and federal lawmakers, who are working to craft legislation that would safeguard the rights of homeowners while helping to keep rents affordable. So far, the results have been mixed. The National Consumer Law Center says 15 states and Washington, D.C., have […]

Wall Street investors pricing Americans out of last bastion of affordable housing

BY: , and - January 19, 2021

In the spring of 2013, Holly Hook purchased a mobile home and moved it to Swartz Creek Estates, a manufactured housing community in Swartz Creek, Michigan. At the time, her plan was to become a full-time fiction writer. Knowing her income would remain modest for the foreseeable future, she wanted a comfortable place to live […]

Biden rolls out $1.9 trillion plan for another COVID recovery

BY: - January 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is calling on Congress to approve a sweeping package for economic and pandemic relief with a price tag twice that of the emergency aid passed in December after months of acrimonious negotiations. Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal, which he outlined in a speech Thursday evening, is framed around boosting funding in […]