Montana’s Speaker of the House, Greg Hertz, has drafted a letter to Governor Steve Bullock asking him to consider cutting the state’s budget as a response to anticipated tax revenue shortfalls caused by the coronavirus-impacted economy. Even though Bullock and other Democrats have hardly, if ever, proposed spending less money, Hertz and other Republicans feel it is the only common-sense maneuver in light of Montana’s struggling economy.
The Montana Daily Gazette is in possession of the letter from Hertz to Governor Bullock, although it has not yet been released to the rest of Montana’s press corps. The correspondence shows Montana’s House Republicans trying to speak reason to the Democratic governor, encouraging him to cut spending in wake of the anticipated tax revenue shortage.
Hertz writes, “As members of the Legislative Interim Revenue Committee we agree with your expectations As we proceed into the remaining three months of the current fiscal year ending 06/30/20, we expect to see immediate reductions in oil taxes, gaming taxes, lodging taxes, rental car taxes, coal taxes, metal mine taxes, lottery profits and income withholding taxes, just to name a few.”
The taxes named by Hertz and the Legislative Interim Revenue Committee are all from industries greatly impacted by Bullock’s closure of Montana’s economy during the coronavirus panic. These industries provide a tax-base for Montana’s state budget and were almost all stunted dramatically during Bullock’s shut-down. The House Republicans indicated in Hertz’s letter that the only wise and fiscally responsible move is for Bullock to cut government spending on a level commensurate with the shortfalls.
The letter continues, “We are asking you to consider reducing current state spending during the remaining of the fiscal year 06/30/20, as well as into the next fiscal year. By reducing spending now, this small effort will help us moving forward in the 2021 legislative session from having to make some possible significant budget reductions that could have an adverse impact on the state of Montana as we come out of this state of emergency.”
The letter from House Republicans also asks Bullock to make the same kind of cuts that small businesses all across the state are also having to cut.
The letter reads, “Many Montanans and small businesses are making similar reductions in their spending due to financial difficulties and uncertainties in their finances. We are asking that state government also make similar reductions to protect Montana from financial problems as we navigate through these uncertain times.”
Bullock, who is running in the Democratic Primary for the U.S. Senate, has exponentially raised Montana’s government spending during his time of office. Should he accept the advice of House Republicans and make cuts in light of Montana’s current economic hardship, it will be the first time the politician has ever reduced the size or spending of government.