It’s disappointing that the legislature tabled Senate Bill 295, the bill to repeal the oil and gas tax holiday. Had it passed, the bill would have provided millions in new revenue to communities in eastern Montana that are facing major infrastructure expenses due to the oil boom.
Now, instead of generating new funds to address the impacts, the legislature is moving forward proposals that raid the general fund. All of the remaining bills that are still moving forward take this approach. Why are we giving the oil and gas industry a break while simultaneously taking general fund money that could go to essential services such as education and health care?
The industry is creating the impacts, and oil prices are at their highest in decades. There is no doubt that oil companies are making good money. North Dakota and Wyoming both have higher tax rates than we do.
It simply is not fair for Montana taxpayers to pay for industry-generated impacts because the oil and gas companies don’t want to pay their fair share.
I think the legislature needs to really think through the implications of raiding the general fund. Who will benefit? Will it be the taxpayers or the industry? Maybe we should reconsider SB 295.