Posted: Sep 13, 2012 9:13 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Sep 13, 2012 9:13 AM
HELENA- Montana GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill announced on Wednesday his plan for funding education and cutting taxes while speaking to a room full of conservative lawmakers and lobbyists in Helena.
"Today we are releasing a revitalization of education proposal to the people of the State of Montana. There are some elements of that, that I think would interest this group because a big part of the proposal we are offering has to do with taxes," Hill said.
The Republican says he will use the state's share of oil and gas taxes to directly fund education.
The Montana Department of Revenue collected $200 million in oil and gas taxes last year, and Hill says instead of using the money to pad the general fund, it will be used to reduce property taxes.
"What we are offering is permanent tax relief to Montanans and the beginning of a shift so that education in Montana has a more beneficial funding source over the long-term."
Hill says he will place a referendum on the ballot which allows Montana to use coal tax money to fix infrastructure; one-third of the coal revenues would be used to fix up schools.
"Two-thirds would go to local community needs for transportation, water, and sanitation needs. This will have to go on the ballot and be voted on. We believe the people of Montana will understand the importance in investing in infrastructure so that we can make sure that we don't have to raise local property taxes," Hill explained.
Hill's education plan focuses two major parts: first, rewarding effective teachers by reforming the tenure system; second, giving Montana families a choice in how they pursue education. This would be done by allowing charter schools and giving tax credits for private school tuition.
Hill says all of these things will translate into a better economy for all Montanans.
Hill's opponent, Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock, has already released his tax plan.
He plans on giving every Montana homeowner a $400 tax rebate, and plans on eliminating the business equipment tax for companies with less than $100,000 worth of equipment.
Bullock also says he will invest state money into grant programs which will help businesses innovate and expand.
"If you had to give Congressman Hill's education plan a grade it would get an 'F' for arithmetic because the numbers just don't add up, an 'F' for working families because it privatizes Montana's public schools, and an 'A' for out-of-state corporations looking for a tax break," Bullock said in reaction to Hill's plan. "
It shouldn't be a surprise that the Congressman wants to defund, devalue and dismantle our education system, because during his time in Washington, D.C. he tried to cut $137 million from Montana's public schools," he concluded.