In 2011 the Legislature passed SB 426, sponsored by Bozeman Sen. Joe Balyeat. This referendum now goes to the citizens for a vote in the general election next November. That is unless the unions have their way.
Legislative Referendum 123 (SB426) would create the Treasure State Taxpayer Dividend Program allowing taxpayers a refund of some surplus state funds. These criteria would have to be met in order to refund any money at all.
1) Funds taken in would have to exceed the budgeted general fund by 125 percent for two years.
2) The excess balance would have to be at least $5 million before refund would be issued.
Several unions have asked State District Judge Kathy Seeley of Helena to strike the referendum from the ballot. I guess keeping 50 percent of the excess funds is not enough for them. They want 100 percent to expand state government.
Balyeat stated that the Revenue Department “constantly issues tax refund checks and tax credits. These have never been found to be unconstitutional appropriations because the money hasn’t gone to the treasury yet.” Also, funds in excess of budgeted amounts cannot be spent without the Legislature’s approval.
Let the citizens of Montana decide if they want one-half of these excess funds returned to their pocketbooks or if they prefer allowing an ever-expanding state government keep every last cent.