The legislative leadership, especially Austin Knudsen are bragging again that they imposed no new taxes on hard working Montana's. That is a big lie. Please check your last year's school tax on your property tax bill and compare it to this year's.
We send our local property taxes to the state and get money back through entitlements. The legislature simply did not fund the block grants to the schools and passed on a tax increase to the counties. Mine went up 30 percent in one year in Daniels County and about the same in Valley County. The Legislature just eliminated another $13 million in education grants to local school districts in the special session. Local school boards, county and state officials are stuck trying to work through this.
Our small northeastern county of Daniels is owned 23 percent by the state, more than any other county in Montana for its size. The state used to pay an in-lieu payment to nine counties with more than 6 percent state land to help make up the difference in lost local taxes. This has been nearly eliminated with no correlation between state land ownership and taxes. The locals make up the difference in their taxes. This is totally unfair and wrong. It seems many politicians are more concerned about access on these lands than paying their fair share for owning them. Either pay up, or sell them to get them on the tax rolls.
Speaker Knudsen and Sen. Mike Lang are our local reps and often seem more concerned about holding the party line than representing their constituents. Knudsen's far-right hardline ideology is not good for his constituents or Montana. Their plan for public funding of private/charter schools, often called school choice, will mean more taxes and government when most rural schools are fighting for survival now. Knudsen had no problem passing on $750,000 to the counties for the last congressional special election by not allowing a bill for mail-in ballots to come to the floor for a vote. Uncompromising hardline position?