Picking up the Tab

While the City of Billings is among the highest spending cities in Montana, Yellowstone County is among the lowest spending counties. Such was part of the data revealed by Doug Young, Professor Emeritus in Economics from Montana State University, as the featured speaker of the Montana Economic Seminar held earlier this month in Billings.
In explaining property taxes and how property tax bills are determined, Young said that one of the factors that determine the number of mills assessed in each taxing jurisdiction is how much money is spent by the governmental entity.

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Program Prepares Manufacturers in Montana to Export Products

Participants from five Montana companies are now better prepared to promote and sell their products outside the United States after completing Montana State University’s inaugural ExporTech program.
The program, offered by MSU’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC), ran for 10 weeks and included three full-day workshops on campus during which each company developed a written export plan that was vetted by a panel of experts.

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Bypass, Trucks & Lockwood

Some 50 business people, mostly from businesses which in one manner or another depend on trucks to do business in Lockwood, attended an informational meeting in Lockwood last week regarding the proposed plans for Johnson Interchange as part of the proposed North Bypass.
Concerned about the possibility of roundabouts being part of the final design and how they might impact truck traffic, which is the lifeblood of Lockwood business, the Lockwood Business Group invited area businesses who are dependent on trucks to listen to an overview of the project by Stefan Streeter, District Manager of the Montana Department of Transportation, (MDT).

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Aeronautics Grants Approved

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT)’s Aeronautics Board approved a little over $660,000 in funding requests from 32 public-use airports during their Helena meeting on January 21, 2016.The requests were for a variety of improvement projects ranging from installation of weather observation equipment to runway reconstruction projects.

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Montana Legislators Travel to Washington To Defend Colstrip

In an effort to defend Montana jobs and ratepayers, a bi-partisan group of Montana legislators traveled to Olympia, Washington to testify against proposed regulations aimed at forcing the closure Colstrip
Senator Jim Keane (D Butte, MT), Senator Cliff Larson (D Missoula, MT), Senator Duane Ankney (R Colstrip, MT), and Senator Rick Ripley (R Wolf Creek, MT) testified before the Washington State Legislature’s Senate Energy Environment and Telecommunications Committee that the implications of Washington’s proposed legislation to limit coal usage in their state would have dire implications for Montana as well as their own ratepayers.

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Suit Filed Against Montana DOR for Enacting Law Contrary to Legislation

A lawsuit has been filed lawsuit against the Montana Department of Revenue for enacting a state regulation contrary to legislative action and in violation of the Constitution.
On behalf of a Missoula family with an eighth grader in a religiously affiliated school, along with a prominent association of Christian schools, Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) has just filed a federal-court challenge to a bureaucratic regulation that would bar religiously affiliated schools and their students from participating in Montana’s new Scholarship Tax Credit program. The discriminatory restriction, which violates federal constitutional protections and is not found in the scholarship program as enacted by the Legislature, was imposed earlier this month by the Montana Department of Revenue.

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Setback for School Choice

A recent Department of Revenue decision is a significant setback for school choice in Montana.
Montana uses a tax credit school choice program in which tax-deductible donations of up to $150 can go toward scholarship funds. Families awarded scholarships can then determine where they wish to send their children. The question of legality comes into play when families decide to pursue faith-based schooling, as the state doesn’t allow public funds to be used for religious institutions or schools. As the money goes to the families, however, and the families determine how best to use it, the argument is that it’s no longer public money. The Department of Revenue decided, on a vote that closely followed party lines, that religious schools must be excluded from the program.

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Fox Files for Re-election

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox has filed paperwork with the Secretary of State declaring his candidacy for re-election.
“It’s been an honor to serve Montanans as attorney general,” Fox said. “In the last three years we have done a great deal to improve public safety, protect our most vulnerable citizens, and push back against federal overreach. But there’s more work to do and so today I’m asking Montanans for another term to do it.”

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State Collects Record Bed Tax

Big Sky collected a record breaking amount of lodging tax during the 3rd quarter of 2015. The Montana Lodging Facility Use Tax, often called a bed tax or lodging tax, is a 4% tax collected from guests who stay overnight at hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, guest ranches, resorts, and campgrounds across the state. The lodging tax is collected by the state and is used to promote tourism in Montana. In addition to the lodging tax, Big Sky has a 3% sales tax, called Resort Tax, which is collected to improve the community .

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