Legislative Republicans, Gov. Bullock negotiating tax-policy cha - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Legislative Republicans, Gov. Bullock negotiating tax-policy changes

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Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville

Senate Republicans and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said Tuesday they’re negotiating a possible agreement on several tax bills, with an eye toward passing priorities for each group in the final days of the 2017 Legislature.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, told reporters late Tuesday that majority Republicans have some “good tax policy that we’d like to get in place,” rather than just pass the bills and see them vetoed by the Democratic governor.

In exchange for a potential agreement, the GOP-controlled Senate Tuesday advanced a pair of tax bills that are priorities for the Bullock administration: An “earned income-tax credit,” which would give state tax refunds to low-income families, and a tax credit for businesses that hire apprentices.

Another tax priority of the Bullock administration is a property-tax abatement for new or expanding industries.

Thomas said the bills advanced Tuesday could serve as vehicles to include some GOP tax priorities – but he declined to identify what those were.

Majority Republicans in the Legislature have been advancing bills to reduce property tax rates for residential, commercial and agricultural properties, and allow further income-tax reductions for certain business expenses.

Bullock has not taken action on or seen those bills reach his desk.

Ronja Abel, spokeswoman for the governor, said the various bills are part of an ongoing discussion between the governor’s office and legislative Republicans.

When asked whether the tax-bill talks are part of overall negotiations on how to end the 2017 Legislature, both sides declined to say – but agreed that all major issues often become related in final-week negotiations.

The Legislature is scheduled to end May 1, but lawmakers have said they’d like to wrap things up within the next week or so.

Still unresolved are the 2018-19 state budget, an infrastructure bonding bill and a few other major non-money issues.

About Mike Dennison

MTN Chief Political Reporter Mike Dennison joined MTN News in August 2015 after a 23-year career as a newspaper reporter covering Montana politics and state government. While some may believe that politics are boring, Mike firmly believes that's not the case if you tell the story with pizzazz and let people know why the story is important.
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