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Bullock vetoes 2nd bill to cut Montana income taxes

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HELENA – Gov. Steve Bullock late Thursday vetoed his second Republican bill this session to cut individual income taxes by tens of millions of dollars.

The Democratic governor vetoed Senate Bill 200 by Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, which would have cut income taxes by nearly $200 million over the next two years. It would have reduced income tax rates, widened the tax brackets and cut the capital gains tax credit rate.

“SB200 primarily benefits the wealthiest individuals and costs close to $200 million over the next four years,” Bullock said. “Almost 40 percent of the benefit of SB200 would go to the top 10 percent of income earners, with 56 percent of the benefits going to individuals who earn more than $80,000.”

He said the experience of other states shows that “decimating your revenue base to benefit large corporations and the wealthiest individuals does not work to stimulate the economy,” Bullock said. “To the contrary, states like New Jersey, Wisconsin and Louisiana have seen these trickle-down experiments fail, resulting in funding cuts to schools, roads and other services and forcing these states into, in some cases, billion-dollar deficits.”

Bullock said SB200 proposes to take Montana down that “failed path, despite the fact that Montana’s economy is growing and that our state and local tax burden is among the lowest in the nation.”

“I take my job to be a responsible steward of Montana taxpayer dollars serious,” Bullock said. “SB200 would undercut Montana’s fiscal health and strong job creating climiate that comes from it.”

Ankney said he thought he might have been able to get something out of SB200 if it reached Bullock’s desk at the same time as SB171, a bill to revise state income taxes by Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell.

“I’m not surprised,” Ankney said. “I just couldn’t get the timing right. Hopefully, we can get a positive pen out of the governor on Bruce Tutvedt’s SB171.

Bullock earlier vetoed HB166 by House Majority Leader Keith Regier, R-Kalispell.

That bill would have cut state income taxes by $163 million over four years. It would have reduced each the tax rates in each of Montana’s seven tax brackets by two-tenths of a percentage point.

Attempts to override the veto failed.

After the veto Thursday, House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, said, “We sent the governor HB166, which provided an across-the-board income tax cut, but it was vetoed on the grounds that it did not provide enough tax relief to the middle class. The Legislature listened and sent him SB200, which did just that.

“The governor is being disingenuous and has shown that he does not want to provide any relief to the hardworking men and women across this state. He only wants to grow government and increase spending.”

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