We can all see the tragedy that surrounds us as the pandemic wreaks its havoc upon our state.
Loved ones losing their lives, of course. But also the newly homeless; the unemployed who no longer have jobs; the folks who provide the rest of us with essential services at low wages and at high risk to themselves; the parents who struggle to make ends meet while dealing with child care and remote learning for their children; the teachers, health care workers and support staff who are working overtime. These are the folks who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic and who are in greatest need of community support from our government.
And so it was with great interest that I read a summary of Governor Gianforte’s legislative agenda to see if his priorities addressed the needs of our neighbors. And as I read it, I was deeply disappointed. Gianforte’s agenda reveals a governor who wants to help those who need no help while imposing greater hardships upon those who have already suffered the most.
The governor proposes to decrease the taxes for wealthy Montanans; cutting the taxes for the wealthiest by thousands of dollars a year. At the same time he suggests limiting social services for needy Montanans.
This is cruel madness.
The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act has already reduced the taxes of the richest 339 Montanans an average of $166,000 a year. Do those families really need another tax cut from the state of Montana?
At this time of greatest community need, we should be guided by the words of Franklin Roosevelt when he addressed the nation in the depths of the depression:
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”
Jon Ellingson is an attorney in Missoula and former state legislator. He served as Montana's Senate Majority Leader in 2005.