Jackson Crawford

Gov. Gianforte is hiding massive property tax increases behind one-time rebates and, possibly illegally, blocking our state’s largest conservation funding bill.

Montana property taxes increased by an average of 43% this year. That’s an average of $630 more per year. Meanwhile, Gov. Gianforte’s one-time tax rebate of $675 is certainly getting a lot of attention. This tax rebate was only possible due to federal pandemic relief and high-income folks moving to Montana from out-of-state. And it was strategically distributed right before our property taxes rose dramatically.

Senate Bill 442 would have renewed our largest wildlife preservation program: Habitat Montana. The Montana Outdoor Conservation Fund describes Habitat Montana as “our state’s best tool to protect critical wildlife habitat, maintain our traditional working lands, and provide public access to the outdoors. It's helped local landowners voluntarily protect their private lands for three decades.”

Republicans hold supermajorities in the House and Senate. SB442 passed the House 82-17, and the Senate 48-1 before Gov. Gianforte vetoed it. Vetoes performed after the legislature adjourns are sent to representatives in the mail for an override vote, but the veto took place minutes before the legislature adjourned – and before they could vote to override it in person.

Long story short: our governor found a way to veto our biggest, most popular conservation bill without allowing an override vote.

Governor Gianforte is not even from this state. He is reminiscent of Copper King William A. Clark: out of touch with our culture and far out of whack with our average income (Gianforte was previously the richest member of the U.S. Congress).

Governor Gianforte has looked for procedural loopholes to skirt checks and balances and tried to trick voters into thinking they are recouping taxes instead of paying far more.

Let’s find someone better in 2024.