Big Sky, Big Money

Tonight at 8:30 pm on Montana PBS:

In a special investigation in collaboration with Marketplace, FRONTLINE travels to the remote epicenter of the campaign finance debate for a tale of money, politics, and intrigue. How has the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision changed campaigns in America? Ask Montana, which has tried to challenge the ruling in court, is investigating alleged campaign abuses, and is playing host to a bitter race that could decide control of the U.S. Senate.

FRONTLINE correspondent and Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal reports.

Hopefully, some light will be shed on the mysterious meth house documents

Trailer is here.

Watch Big Sky, Big Money, an investigation with Marketplace on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Rick Hill: Viva Viagra!

This is just too good not to share:

Thanks to Montana Cowgirl- check out her story here.

Steve Bullock Has My Vote

…and so does Jon Tester, Kim Gillan, Pam Bucy, Denise Juneau and, locally, Tom Woods.

And, as I explained in a previous post, here’s why:

I’m voting for the candidate who most represents my views, just as everyone should. I’m against the death penalty, want women to make their own choices about their health, support legal recognition of same-sex relationships, and am a fan of higher education and preserving a clean planet. I want healthcare and insurance companies to be reasonable and efficient- and treat people with mental illness and substance issues with dignity and respect. I want the justice system to be fair to all citizens. I want church and state to be separate. I want the poor and disadvantaged to be given every chance to succeed.

The Democratic Candidates in this election most closely reflect these views.

And, I believe, have the most experience and qualifications under their collective belts.

None of the Republicans even come close.

Take Away From Last Night’s Gubernatorial Debate

Separation of church and state?

Rick Hill: Destroyer Of Montana’s Fabulous Business Climate?

According to The Montana Democrats (fact-checked of course):

English: Rick Hill

Image via Wikipedia

A study recently released by the Tax Foundation found that Montana has the eighth-best business tax climate in the nation.  That top 10 status is due in large part to Montana’s lack of a sales tax, according to leading in-state business organization that bills itself as “the driving force in promoting a favorable business climate.

The eighth-best ranking is one that the Montana Chamber of Commerce says is something they’ll “promote the heck out of” when attracting companies to do business here, but that ranking that would be lost if Montana instituted former Congressman Rick Hill’s sales tax.

According to a story in Lee Newspapers
, Webb Brown, President of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, said the Tax Foundation gives a lot of credit in its rankings to states that don’t have certain major taxes, such as general sales taxes or individual income taxes.

“Not only would Congressman Hill’s tax-hike take money from the wallets of middle-class Montanans, it would make it harder to create jobs, allow Montana businesses to expand and attract businesses to invest here,” Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick said.

As one of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination for Governor, insurance-executive Hill has been a strong supporter of a sales tax.  Hill was the lead lobbyist in the 1993 Montana Legislative Session to put a $400 million tax increase on the ballot – which is over $620 million in today’s dollars.  More recently, Congressman Hill has advocated  for a sales tax as a candidate for Governor.

Governor Schweitzer sees Montana’s standing as one of America’s best business tax climates only getting better, telling reporters that the several states ahead of Montana in the rankings may be looking to raise taxes because they lack the financial stability we enjoy.  Moreover, Montana has cut taxes, like the business equipment tax, this year – which will also play into future rankings.

That may all be lost if Hill is able to ram through his sales tax.

###
Hill Lobbied for $400 Million Sales Tax, $72 Million Income Tax
During the 1993 legislative session, Hill lobbied to pass two measures that would drastically increase taxes on Montanans.  The first measure was a bill to place a $400 million sales tax measure on the ballot.  It was rejected by the voters 75% to 25%.  Hill also lobbied on behalf of a bill that would have increased income taxes by $72 million, but was again rejected by voters. [Billings Gazette State Bureau, 5/23/1996]

Hill Still Supports a Sales Tax
INTERVIEWER: You would support a sales tax as a substitute tax, you would be open to that?

HILL: I would be open to it as a substitute tax. [Voices of Montana, 8/18/2011]

“A lot of people have advocated in Montana for a long time that we need three stools to our tax structure; got to have the income tax, the property tax, and the sales tax. I have often been an advocate for sales tax as a substitute.” [Hometown Helena, 6/2/2011]

Hill + Sonju = More Taxes

 Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick released the following statement in response to Rick Hill‘s running mate announcement:
J.J. Hill & Carl Gray (LOC)

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

“Republicans need to decide if they think their strongest candidates are a lobbyist-turned-Congressman-turned-lobbyist and a state legislator who has voted six times to raise his pay, despite the fact that his company is making millions off of federal earmarks.  With his record of raising taxes on small businesses and working families and continued support of a sales tax, my guess is that Mr. Hill has his work cut out for him.”

The Montana Democrats elaborated with the following:
Hill Lobbied for $400 Million Sales Tax, $72 Million Income Tax

During the 1993 legislative session, Hill lobbied to pass two measures that would drastically increase taxes on Montanans.  The first measure was a bill to place a $400 million sales tax measure on the ballot.  It was rejected by the voters 75% to 25%.  Hill also lobbied on behalf of a bill that would have increased income taxes by $72 million, but was again rejected by voters. [Billings Gazette State Bureau, 5/23/1996]

Hill Still Supports a Sales Tax

INTERVIEWER: You would support a sales tax as a substitute tax, you would be open to that?

HILL: I would be open to it as a substitute tax. [Voices of Montana, 8/18/2011]

A lot of people have advocated in Montana for a long time that we need three stools to our tax structure; got to have the income tax, the property tax, and the sales tax. I have often been an advocate for sales tax as a substitute. [Hometown Helena, 6/2/2011]

Sonju Votes Six Times To Raise Legislator Compensation Package

In each of the four legislative sessions that Sen. Jon Sonju has served, he has voted for House Bill 1, the “feed bill” that finances the legislative session.  In each session, the legislature has increased the amount of money they reimburse themselves, leading to biannual increases in their pay package.  [HB 1, 2nd Reading, 1/12/2005 Yes, 3rd Reading, 1/13/2005 Yes; HB 1, 2nd Reading, 1/12/2007 Yes, 3rd Reading, 1/15/2005 No; HB 1, 2nd Reading, 1/8/2009 Yes, 3rd Reading, 1/8/2009 Yes; HB 1, 2nd Reading, 1/22/2011 Yes, 3rd Reading, 1/22/2011 No]

Sonju Lobbies for Millions in Federal Earmarks

“Some Montana companies with longtime Republican ties, however, still support earmarks. Kalispell-based Sonju Industries has teamed with the missile systems division of defense giant Raytheon Co. on a project that has previously received federal funding, and it asked for $8 million again this year. Jon Sonju, an officer of the company and a Republican representative in the Montana Legislature, met with Rehberg staff on the matter before Rehberg announced his earmark moratorium.” [Billings Gazette, 10/23/2010]