Yesterday I was a guest on Rick Tryon’s “Politics in Montana” radio show in Great Falls and the topics were my three pet peeves about our political climate. At one time Montana was one of the highest paying states in the union. We farmed, logged, mined, drilled, and Montana was aptly named “The Treasure State.” I feel that if my three pet peeves are enacted Montana could once again be the state we all hope it can be.

Political Pet Peeve No. 1 – Property Taxes

In my opinion, if your personal residence does not produce income then it should be exempt from property tax. A business property generates income to cover its property taxes. A property owner builds property taxes into the cost of the tenants rent. However, a homeowner has no way to generate income to pay property taxes other than taking out of their household income. That seems very unfair to me.

My idea is to phase out property taxes over a number of years on personal residences that do not produce income for the homeowner. Over time Montana will be a much more desirable place to live because of the lifetime of savings. This will attract more workers to the state along with more entrepreneurs. The population increase of new workers and entrepreneurs could easily make up the difference in lost property taxes with increased income taxes paid by these new residents.

Political Pet Peeve No. 2: Business Equipment Tax

Anything that adds to the cost of doing business hurts Montana business and makes us less competitive outside the state. Thankfully, this regressive tax has been slowly phased out over the past few legislative sessions. In addition, it should be totally repealed. Let’s all contact our legislative leaders and let them know it’s time to end one more tax that small businesses owners have to take into account before locating to our state.

Political Pet Peeve No. 3: Right-to-Work

In 24 states if a business has a union contract you are forced to join the union as a condition of employment. In right-to-work states, you have the option of deciding whether membership in the union will benefit you in some way. If it does by all means join that union, if not, then you can still work at that business if you choose as a non-union member. However, the union will not represent you, or come to your defense, in a labor dispute with management.

Under union contracts, a worker can’t excel at their job and get a raise unless that’s spelled out specifically in the collective bargaining agreement. So a union employee’s salary is capped until the next contract no matter how hard he or she works.

Some Final Thoughts

All three of my pet peeves work for both business and Montana residents. Property tax relief will add disposable income to Montana paychecks. The repeal of the business equipment tax will add to the business bottom line allowing them to invest that money back into the business. Finally, right to work will make our state more desirable to businesses like Hostess that was told by unions that Twinkies and Wonder Bread couldn’t be delivered on the same truck.

If you happen to agree with any or all of my pet peeves, why not let your representative know and put more money in your take home. I certainly intend to. What are some of your political pet peeves?

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