Here in Montana, we cut taxes and we created jobs. That was the message from Montana’s Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer as he presented his budget to lawmakers and the public Monday afternoon.
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The Governor’s message appeared, at least to me, as a not so thinly veiled critique of a lame duck Congress, still controlled by Democrats, and still pondering what to do as tax hikes appear imminent at the end of this year.
So here we have a Democratic Governor bragging about tax cuts and job creation.
The most telling line came from Lee Newspaper’s Mike Dennison where he reported this:
Schweitzer said the business equipment tax reduction for smaller businesses would help create jobs in the state.
Which only begs the question: if lowering the business equipment tax will help create jobs, then why are we phasing it in rather than making it immediate? For that matter, why did we wait until now to propose this, instead of ending the business equipment tax years ago as Republicans had already suggested?
Here’s more from Dennison as the Governor presents his proposals on reducing the business equipment tax:
Schweitzer, a Democrat, proposed eliminating the property tax on business equipment for companies with up to $1 million of equipment, phasing in the elimination over three years.
On the business equipment property tax, the governor said he’s proposing to increase the value of business equipment exempt from tax from $20,000 per business to $200,000 in 2012, up to $500,000 by 2013 and then to $1 million by 2014.
When the threshold hits $1 million, about 17,500 small businesses would be exempt from paying the property tax on equipment, Schweitzer said.
The business equipment proposal from Schweitzer would entirely eliminate a tax for most businesses that has been slowly decreased in recent years. Schweitzer said only the largest 425 companies in Montana would still be paying the tax after the $20,000 threshold for the tax is increased to $500,000 in 2103.
No one expected the governor to propose the idea in the midst of an economic downturn.
“I was a little surprised,” said state Sen. Jim Peterson, A Republican from Buffalo who is expected to lead that chamber next year. “But we have been talking about doing that ourselves.