I will always follow my oath to office to support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the state of Montana.
Jobs & The Economy:
As a business owner who employs nearly 250 hard working people, I know what it takes to create jobs. The government does not create jobs. Private industry creates jobs! The government can only create an environment to foster the private industry's ability to create jobs and spark economic growth. Getting Montanans back to work will take a comprehensive overhaul of our policies on taxes, budgeting, natural resources, education, and private property rights.
If we begin to develop our natural resources again in Montana the revenue from production taxes will provide more revenue to make larger state contributions to our education systems and reduce the burden of property and other taxes on local taxpayers. Montana has twice as much coal as Wyoming, yet Wyoming mines ten times more coal than Montana. Wyoming's production taxes provide almost 1 billion dollars to their state, a number that exceeds Montana's total individual and corporate income tax receipts.
As a CPA with over 30 years of tax preparation experience, I know first-hand how complicated Montana's tax structure is. During the 2013 and 2015 legislative session I supported the simplification of Montana's income tax system. Yet Governor Bullock vetoed bills passed by the legislature. I will again be supporting simplification during the 2017 session. A simplification of our tax code would eliminate nonessential Department of Revenue staff, reduce the burden on taxpayers, and attract new businesses to our state.
State spending must match the growth of our population and per capita income in Montana. During every budget session we need to use zero based budgeting. That means starting with a new budget each cycle rather than adding to the previous budget for each and every department. Budget surpluses should not be spent as past legislatures have done. Instead, surpluses must be returned to the taxpayers with a reasonable amount retained for a rainy day fund. The more money we take out of the private industry to fund government operations, the less capital available for investment in our economy.
As a 5th generation Montana fisherman, hunter and outdoor enthusiast, I want to ensure that we pass down a clean environment to future generations. However, that does not mean shutting down responsible natural resource development. Montana's economy lags behind our neighboring states because we have failed to responsibly develop our natural resources. When Montana was developing our natural resources during the 1960's and 1970's median income ranked near the top half of states. Since then, we've regulated our natural resource industries out of business and exported our jobs out of state and overseas. As a result, we have one of the lowest median household incomes in the nation. Let's not forget that Montana is the Treasure State!
A strong, well-funded public education system is very important to all Montanans and will assist us in the long-term growth of our economy. Education needs to be locally controlled and allow for parents to educate their children in a public, private or home school. A strong natural resource economy will provide additional tax revenue that can be used to support our school systems along with reducing local property tax burdens and keeping quality teachers from leaving Montana to seek employment in neighboring states.