Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Republicans put Montanan’s tax dollars to work

Republicans came into the 2023 session focused on how to ensure a large surplus was handled with the utmost respect for Montanans, as well as meeting the needs of state services. With a surplus estimated at over 2 billion dollars, this was a monumental undertaking.

All of the surplus will benefit Montanans through direct refunds and rebates, SAFER roads and bridges, improved infrastructure and well-funded reserves and savings accounts for fire season and other needs. This session Republicans made good on yet another promise to return over collected tax dollars. Nearly $880 million of our state’s historic budget surplus is on its way back to taxpayers through a property tax rebate of $1,200 to residential property owners paid out in 2024 and 2025, and an income tax rebate of up to $1,250 per individual taxpayer and $2,500 for married couples filing jointly. Now it is up to you to figure out how you will spend your refund checks.

Nearly $200 million will go toward paying off Montana’s outstanding bond debt, freeing up the state government to lower future tax rates. Beyond direct refunds, $100 million will be directed toward ensuring our roads and bridges will be SAFER by matching federal funding for repairs, allowing projects to be completed sooner. All three of the State’s reserve and contingency funds were reinforced with a ending fund, stabilization reserve fund, and fire fund all totaling $1.2 Billion of surplus taxes making our state very financially stable in times of future recession.

Although the surplus received a lot of attention, Republicans also passed a balanced state budget. The largest section of the budget is Public Health and Human Services, with a total biennial budget of $7 Billion, or 49% of the budget. This is followed by Education with $2.9 Billion and Transportation & Natural Resources with $2.5 Billion. Legislators reviewing the Public Health and Human Services budget had the challenging task of addressing provider rates. We are pleased to say provider rates have been funded 100%. This required increasing provider rates for Medicaid providers with $294.9 million and for non-Medicaid providers with $31.6 million. These funds will address the care of our most treasured Montanans who count on Montana’s help.

Our caucus is proud of the accomplishments of this session and that the surplus and budget will benefit all Montanans while keeping spending below record inflation and population growth while responsibly funding government operations that have been neglected for decades.

Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, is the speaker of the Montana House of Representatives; Rhonda Knudsen, R-Culbertson, is the speaker pro tempore of the Montana House of Representatives; Sue Vinton, R-Billings, is the majority leader of the Montana House of Representatives.