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'People cannot afford to live here': Gubernatorial challenger Ryan Busse talks property tax relief

Posted at 4:30 PM, Dec 31, 2023

BILLINGS — When Ryan Busse launched his gubernatorial campaign on September 14, he did so with a video meant to send a message.

A notable scene occurs when Busse, a Democrat from Kalispell, and his family shoot clay pigeons bearing their criticisms of current Gov. Greg Gianforte, including one clay pigeon that reads '20% property tax hike'. Outside of the ad, property tax relief has become a central issue of Busse's campaign.

“This tax increase, it didn't make things better, it made things way worse," Busse said, when relating the tax increase to high housing costs in Montana.

“I think the first thing we need to do is readjust the rate just like past governors and past legislatures have done and take back the tax breaks that we've given great big corporations like Northwestern Energy," Busse said. "I don't think we need to be giving them a tax break while we're increasing taxes on homeowners."

Busse grew up on a farm in Kansas and has lived in Montana for 30 years, building a home and business in Kalispell.

Busse worked in the firearms industry for 25 years and has not run for public office before this point.

“I don't like the way the state is being turned into this place where we hate each other," Busse said. "It seems to me a lot of the last legislative session and the governor's sort of agenda is to make Montanans hate each other. That's not the state that I love and I don't think it's the state that most Montanans want to live in."

Busse is one of three candidates (two Democrats, one Republican) who have filed paperwork with the secretary of state in the run for governor. Gov. Greg Gianforte has not yet filed his paper seeking re-election to the office.

MTN has reached out to Gianforte several times to also discuss taxes in regard to this story, but his office has at this time declined an interview.