I had the opportunity to watch newly elected Governor Steve Bullock’s State of the State message last night. I guess it’s just not possible for a politician to speak to constituents without it sounding like a campaign speech. Maybe it’s because the room is filled with other politicians that you have to use political speak. I had a few guesses as to what would be covered, and the Governor did not disappoint. Some feel good rhetoric, followed by some “paybacks” for campaign support, and the usual freebies that rear their ugly heads every election cycle.

Business Equipment Tax

Those of you who have listened to me over the years are well aware that the business equipment tax is one of my three pet peeves. The other two are property taxes and “right to work.” For the life of me I have never understood this tax. We tax the owner of the business on their profits, we tax the property the business sits on, and we tax the employees who help keep the business in operation. We tax the phone, the utilities and the gas that delivers the product to the customer.

Then, along comes some legislative genius that says, “Wait a minute. Why aren’t we taxing the equipment of this freeloading business owner?” “I’ve got poor voters out here that could really use that money.” In the last session it was like pulling teeth just to reduce it. I can’t imagine the effort it will take to eliminate it.

When I first proposed repealing this job killing business equipment tax a democratic representative wanted to know how I proposed to replace it? Why does that income have to be replaced? How about some cuts here and there and putting a few more taxpaying employees on the payroll?

Education and the Lottery

The governor pointed out that the lottery proceeds were supposed to be used for schools. But over time various legislatures had looted the fund and allocated the money elsewhere. Good luck taking that big paycheck away from legislatures. Is this a payback to the teachers unions to make sure that their upside down pensions will still be there? Depending on union power that might just be doable. Don’t look for a whole lot of money to show up in the classroom.

Property Tax Rebate

The governor wants to send all property owners a $400 rebate check on their principle residence. The governor believes that people will take that money down to Main Street and spend it. They just might but when Bush sent a $600 check to taxpayers they didn’t spend it. Most of them simply retired some debt. Paying for things they bought on credit long ago. I’m not very confident that Bullock or anyone else can get the legislature to give anything back to the taxpayer. I hope I’m wrong but recent history would disagree. We’ve had so-called surpluses before yet the mailman hasn’t brought me any surprise windfalls.

Some Final Thoughts

The other day I chastised one of my close friends on Facebook for posting too many negative things. Now here I am preaching gloom and doom about the future of our state at the hands of the very people we sent there to make it better. I guess I should give our new governor the benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise. It would just be a lot easier if I didn’t have the queasy feeling in my tummy.

Tom Egelhoff is an Amazon best selling author of three small business books. His 400+ page web site www.smalltownmarketing.com is one of the oldest continuous sites on the internet. He has been featured on MSNBC’s “Your Business” and quoted in business publications in China, Turkey, India and the UK. He hosts “Open for Business” each week, 11-2 PM Mountain Time on http://kmmsam.com