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Mood serves on
Jobs and Income Committee

From the
Capitol Steps
by Doug Mood,

House District 58 Representative

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
January 14, 1999

The swearing in ceremony for the members of the 1999 legislature took place on Monday, January 4th, at twelve o'clock, noon.

I had been appointed to serve on the select Committee on Jobs and Income in early December and that committee turned out to be very time consuming, indeed. Almost half of my work week throughout December was taken up with meetings of the Jobs and Income Committee. No one who agreed to serve on the committee had any idea that it would be that time intensive. But with Montana's average income per person being last in the nation, there is unquestionably a sense of urgency within the Governor's office and the legislature, that significant and dramatic steps need to be taken to help our existing businesses survive and be competitive, and to encourage new investments by both existing businesses and by entrepreneurs looking to invest in new entities.

Governor Racicot's Jobs and Income proposal has forty-seven different components, but no single recommendation is more important to the creation of genuinely good jobs than the proposals that have been folded into the bill that is being introduced by Senator Taylor of Proctor. His bill has three components.

The first component is a systematic reduction in the Class 8 business equipment tax. The first year (beginning on January 1, 1999), the first $5000 of tax would be exempt. This would exempt over 46,000 small businesses, which is 55% of all the companies in Montana, from their current equipment tax expense. Independent truckers, small ranchers, main street businesses would be the first to see this tax disappear. The second year, that exemption would increase to $15,000. Third, fourth and fifth years it would go to $40,000, $75,000, and $100,000. Along with that reduction, there would be a three year exemption from any business equipment tax for new (or new/used) equipment purchased after January 1, 1999.

The second part of the bill would phase out class 6, or livestock taxes, at the rate of 1% per year starting in the current year. Ranchers and farmers would see this rather obnoxious tax entirely disappear by 1/1/2002.

Thirdly, any company that creates a new job that pays over $10.00 per hour or $20,800 per year would realize a 1% credit against their Montana income taxes for the year in which the job was created. Hiring a new employee and paying them $10.00 per hour would net the employer a credit of $208 on their tax obligation.

I have been working very closely with Senator Taylor on his proposal and I plan to carry his bill on the House side.

The Lewistown judge that declared S.B. 195 unconstitutional may not have liked the bill but chances are that the homeowners of Montana did not find the law that objectionable. S.B. 195, the property tax relief bill that was passed in the last session, saved Montana's homeowners over $200 million in property taxes over the past two years.

I always enjoy hearing from you and encourage you to contact me with your thoughts and ideas. The telephone number listed below rings directly at my desk. If I am not there to answer the phone, please leave your name and number and I will get back to you.

Doug Mood, Capitol Station Box 150, Helena MT 59620-0400; 406-444-1507.

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