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More ideas addressing Montana's budget shortfall

Sunday’s (Oct. 1) front page focused again on our budget shortfall, and again focused only on cutting services or raising taxes. A week ago I suggested a sales tax of 3% to capture over $200 million from the $7 billion reportedly spent yearly by tourists in Montana. Montanans would receive a 3% tax credit to offset this sales tax. Here are two more thoughts.

Generate more commodity development revenues for our coffers from mining, logging, petroleum, and livestock grazing from the nearly 50% of the federal managed public lands in Montana that are locked up in wilderness (3.5 million acres), wilderness study areas (1.1 million acres), wildlife areas (500,000 areas) and roadless areas (8 million acres). These numbers are from the Montana Wilderness Society and MFWP websites. We don’t need more income and property taxes; we need more high–paying jobs.

Montana is a rural commodity producing state; at least it was until Carter, a Democrat, was elected president over 40 years ago. Montana, and most of America for that matter, has lost its path ever since. Wilderness and wildlife are nice, esoteric, considerations, but they should never have been allowed to trump commodity production. This is especially true for mining, which produces the greatest wealth per acre of all commodity resources.

The second idea is to encourage Montanans to pull their own weight instead of depending on government handouts, which always seems to be a leading plank in the democrat’s platform. A simple truth is that self-initiative, self-reliance, and self-responsibility lead to self-respect. Both our children were born in St. James Healthcare here in Butte, during a period when we had limited funds and no insurance. We still take pride in paying our own way during those difficult times. Overcoming adversity in life can be a reward unto itself.

-- EA Johnson, Butte


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