Garner and the Chamber Exposed

Tax-raising legislators and the chamber are playing games

By Julie Dockery

Frank “Gas Tax” Garner was voted Most Valuable Policymaker (MVP) by the Montana Chamber of Commerce in August. In my opinion, this action exposes both Mr. Garner and the chamber for who and what they really are.

Mr. Garner sponsored/carried the chamber’s two highest-priority bills this session. HB473 was cunningly called “the Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability Act,” but let’s call it what it really is: the Gas Tax Bill. SB335 promoted public/private partnerships, where government subsidies (tax dollars) pay the chosen business owners, who in turn support the chamber’s legislators (crony capitalism).

The Bible instructs civil leaders to do justice, hate bribes, and fear God. Given Mr. Garner’s known corruption (revealed in the 2015/2017 legislative sessions), he doesn’t fit God’s standard. While Frank Garner seems friendly and charming, that’s a deception. He’s not your friend if he’s responsible for your higher taxes; his charm doesn’t pay your bills.

The Montana Chamber of Commerce is also deceitful. It calls both HB473 and SB335 “infrastructure legislation” and “pro-business.” But government does not create jobs! Taxpayers pay 100 percent of the wages for government employees. “Public/private partnership” wages (like temporary security guards) are paid by government subsidies, which are paid by you and me (taxpayers).

The chamber pretends to promote “entrepreneurship, workforce development, infrastructure, and business climate” with its legislation. It rewards legislators who vote for its legislation with high scores. But when conservative Republicans vote against one of their bills (such as HB473), their scorecards are impacted negatively. The reality is that both the tax-raising legislators and the chamber are playing games on the backs of we the taxpayers.

Voters need to remove from power legislators like Mr. Garner, who vote for expansion of government and increased taxes and who participate in backroom deals.

Julie Dockery
Kalispell

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