Remember the smear tactics Democrats employed in the 2016 gubernatorial race?
It was that year’s October Surprise, with Dems releasing some audio on September 29 of that year.
The liberals were pouncing on a 2002 recording of Gianforte giving his thoughts and ideas to an Income Tax Advisory Council set up by Governor Martz.
This was 13 years before he first tried to run for office, and he flat out said a sales tax would probably be good for Montana’s economy.
He made a mistake. He’s spent the last four years hearing about that mistake.
Thankfully, he’s come out ever since early-2016 saying he’s against any kind of sales tax in Montana, and he even put his money where his mouth is by speaking against a proposed internet sales tax while serving in Congress this year.
But we must be wary.
We have to keep our eye on the GOP, and their tax crusaders. Kerry White is currently the worst.
In February, he sponsored a 426-page bill to get rid of income taxes in Montana in favor of a 2.5% sales tax on all goods and services. He put forth a similar bill in 2017.
Scott Sales is another GOPer that’s going the pro-tax route.
What scares me the most is that we’ll get this fringe of the GOP - these pro-sales-tax legislators - siding with the majority of those serving in the Montana Democratic Party, nearly all of whom now support sales taxes around the state, with the main goal of instituting one statewide sometime in the 2020s.
In fact, over the past year, we’ve seen more and more cities and towns clamoring for sales taxes.
At first they called these local option sales taxes, but it still had that toxic language in there - "sales tax." So starting this summer they began to call them tourist taxes.
It’s a play on semantics, and it’s fooling no one.
On November 1, I gave you a complete timeline of how a statewide sales tax would be implemented in Montana. I told you not to worry - it wouldn’t have a chance of becoming law until the summer of 2022, and that’d be a longshot anyways.
What saddens me is how many Democrats are now saying out loud that they want a sales tax, and not just those here running locally in Missoula, but those running statewide, too.
The latest is Whitney Williams.
Yeah, it used to be incredibly unpopular to come out in support of a sales tax while running for governor...which is why we just spent a few paragraphs talking about it.
Now, however, it seems to be the cool thing to do...though I suspect Whitney will still try and distance herself from this as long as she can, lest she get primaried by a candidate that has a bit more political acumen than she does.
Today, Missoula’s Mayor John Engen has a column up in the Missoulian promoting Whitney’s campaign.
I noticed the article is only appearing here in Missoula, the red-headed stepchild of Montana. I did not see the article in Helena or Butte or Billings...and that’s smart - why would you want everyone in every city to know you support a sales tax? I mean, here in Missoula, that’s fine - all the liberals running for City Council last week supported it, and most of them won...many by large margins.
So Missoula wants a sales tax, and bad...or at least that’s what Democrats here want you to think.
Engen does his part to get that idea through:
Williams recognizes that, as a state, we’ve largely been abandoned by the federal government and we need to change the way we do business to fill in the gaps. From housing Montanans, protecting our access to public lands, helping people through mental-health crises, educating little kids to graduate students, building roads and bridges and sewers and parks, feeding hungry families, treating addiction and addressing the climate crisis, state and local governments have the talent and creativity to solve what Washington, D.C., will not.
She understands that every local government in Montana, large and small, faces similar challenges and opportunities and, in many cases, are solving them and could solve more with a real partner in the governor’s office. We’re solving for homelessness and hunger, transportation and climate change, housing and prosperity, but need an ally in Helena.
She recognizes that government is a “we” business and that when we work together we get meaningful work done.
She knows that the wealthy out-of-staters coming to Montana to buy summer homes and land — shutting off access to public lands, driving up the cost of land and housing, and reducing the agricultural production of our state -- are not paying their fair share and we ought to do something meaningful about that.
How does Whitney feel about Engen’s words?
Well, I went to her site to see if she has any pro-sales-tax language, but I couldn’t find any. Finding any information about her or her ideas is pretty difficult. Her website is designed to keep people in the dark.
But on social media, Whitney is all about John’s words and she’s happy to have his support.
So yeah...she wants that sales tax. It makes sense for rich women like her, people that have lived most of their professional lives making money elsewhere. It’s a lot easier for them to retire here in Montana when they do that.
Many transplants like Whitney want a sales tax. They’ve spent so much time living out-of-state that they’re used to it. What they’re not used to are the high property taxes we have, especially in liberal strongholds like Missoula. So they seek to get rid of those high taxes. After all, many are probably spending most of their money not shopping with our local businesses, but with online behemoths like Amazon and eBay. Why would those rich people like Whitney care about a sales tax?
That’s always been the reason a sales tax has failed here - it hurts us common, working Montanans...you know, the ones doing all the work to keep this state running?
Democrats were very anti-sales-tax during the 2016 gubernatorial campaign, mainly because they knew Bullock was going to have such a close race, they had to pound Gianforte with whatever they could.
One thing was tacos.
You might remember the campy videos of Tester and Bullock going through the drive-thru at Taco John’s.
Here were two Democrats that admitted they wouldn’t have the money to buy their meal if the state had a sales tax:
Tester: So, governor,what if there was a 4 percent sales tax?
Bullock: If there was a 4 percent sales tax, that’d be another 65 cents.
Tester: We wouldn’t have been able to pay for our breakfast.
Bullock: Not only would we not have been able to have breakfast today, think about Montanans all across the state. Next thing you know, 4 percent on their tacos … four percent on everything.
Even Tester and Bullock admit how much of a burden a sales tax would be on low-income Montanans, with the $175,000-a-year-senator admitting he couldn’t have afforded his meal.
The average yearly income for Montanans is around $45,000...and many make a lot less than that. I resent Tester's equating himself with common Montanans and their worries over money. Who does he think he's fooling?
Sadly, we know that Bullock now wants a sales tax...despite saying in 2018 that he wanted a statewide ban on sales taxes.
Here are 10 more Democrats and Democratic organizations that want one.
For years, Dems knew a sales tax would hurt the people that voted for them, but they no longer think that or no longer care.
Back during the ‘71 campaign to get a sales tax, Jim Murray was head of the local AFL-CIO and had this to say about a sales tax:
“We didn’t want our workers to have to pay this unfair tax,” said Murry. “They were shifting the tax load from corporate interests and business interests to low-income people.”
Murray went on to explain that those supporting the sales tax campaign said the money and support for the campaign was coming from “little old ladies” and others in retirement. “It turned out the pro-sales tax group wasn’t funded by little old ladies, but rather by nearly every large corporation and company doing business in the state.” The sales tax crashed in flames that November.
Nearly 40 years later, and we know exactly who will benefit the most from a Montana sales tax, those with the most taxable property here in Montana:
- Plum Creek Timber
- Fracking barons, the Wilks Brothers
- The Galt Family (descendants of the MT Rankin's)
- LA Rams and Denver Nuggets owner, Stan Kroenke
- Sinclair Oil owning family of Robert Holding
- Stockman Bank owning, Coffee family
- Great Northern Properties
- Ted Turner
These are the people that John Engen and Whitney Williams really want support from: rich people that mostly live out-o-state.
This makes sense - Engen just handed a "wealthy out-of-stater" from Wisconsin $75 million in taxpayer money for his fancy new hotel and events center.
The latest public poll on support for a sales tax was back in 2011, and just 28% of Montanans supported a sales tax while 65% opposed one.
Dems will keep clamoring for a sales tax to get the money their local communities need to fix roads and bridges and cross off items from the want-list.
Dems have one good point - they money their communities receive is less than it was a few decades ago.
We simply must realize that the Dem arguments won’t go away until the GOP - and common citizens in general - understand the monumental damage that Marz did to our state, lowering the top tax bracket from 11% to 6.9% and credits of 2% on all capital gains.
This has devastated our ability to fix our roads, dams and bridges at the state, county, and municipal level. Democrats know they can never capture the legislature, and therefore can never increase those tax rates. They do believe they can bamboozle enough people into supporting a sales tax at the ballot box, however.
Whitney Williams is the latest crusader for a sales tax here in Montana.
I hope she loses, and I hope anyone else that supports a sales tax loses.