Constitutional Initiative 121 Garners Few Signatures

CI-121 bills itself as a cap on residential property taxes, but it drew loud and bipartisan opposition

The Montana State Capitol building in Helena. Beacon file photo

Constitutional Initiative 121 looks like a bust for the 2022 general election ballot.

Monday, the Montana Secretary of State’s Office counted just 2,452 out of the necessary 60,359 signatures following the Friday deadline for signature collection, although the dust has yet to settle.

CI-121 bills itself as a cap on residential property taxes, but it drew loud and bipartisan opposition. An analysis by the Montana Department of Revenue showed impacts would vary, some results would depend on ensuing action by the Montana Legislature, and some residential properties could see increases in taxes in certain cases.

Richie Melby, with the Secretary of State’s Office, said county election administrators still are processing petitions. He said more signatures collected by the Friday deadline could be submitted to the state in the next couple of weeks, although the number received to date is just 4.7 percent of the total necessary to put the measure to voters.

“The counties have until July 15 to file with our office, so counties can process petitions in the election management system up until that date,” Melby said in an email. “As you know, counties are currently in the process of conducting the post-election audit and county canvass, so they may wait on putting the petition information into the election management system until those are complete.”

Matthew Monforton, with Cap Montana Property Taxes, said his committee is still waiting for the official count. He said he’s still hoping the totals will grow given the support in Montana for property tax reform.

“We’re doubtful the Legislature will enact any meaningful reforms in our property tax system, and we’ll be at it again next year if necessary,” said Monforton, who submitted the proposed ballot issue with Troy Downing, state auditor.

The Monday report from the Secretary of State’s Office showed 2,871 signatures collected in all, 374 rejected signatures, and 41 blank lines or crossed out signatures. The agency notes signatures must be obtained from 10 percent of the total number of qualified voters in Montana, including 10 percent of the voters in each of 40 legislative house districts.

Ron Ostberg, with Know the Consequences, NO on CI-121 committee, earlier told the Daily Montanan he believes opponents were successful in getting out the word of the damage to schools, farmers and small businesses if the measure were to advance.

“If this thing were to pass, it would be the biggest wreck that the state has ever seen,” Ostberg said earlier.

This story originally appeared in the The Daily Montanan, which can be found online at dailymontanan.com.

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