When you order a pizza and the total comes to $25 and you hand them a fifty-dollar bill, have you ever had the restaurant tell you that they are going to keep your change in case their expenses are higher in the future? We know this sounds absurd, but not for the state government. Over the last two years, the state of Montana has over collected $1.6 billion in unanticipated, unexpected, and unappropriated money from you, the Montana taxpayer. It is money that we did not need to run the state government for the biennium. Recently, there was a call for a short special legislative session to return your overpayment. The call for the special session has fallen short of the needed votes to get your money back to you in a timely fashion. While your Republican majority may have disagreed on the timing of returning your money this fall, from many conversations with our colleagues, the silver lining is that this will be a top priority for your Legislature to accomplish in the opening weeks of the 2023 session.
We are looking forward to working with the governor to deliver on his campaign promise for a responsible budget and return of your overpayment. We are in complete support of his Comeback Plan when it states: “State government spending goes up every single year. In fact, it has gone up over 60 percent in the past 10 years alone. Just because state government brings in more money, it doesn’t mean it has to spend it. After all, it’s not the state’s money; it’s the money you earned that you’re sending to Helena.”
We propose that the overpayment of money you have earned and sent to Helena be refunded to you up to $3,500 for full-time resident households who paid income taxes as joint filers for 2021 and paid property taxes on a primary residence in Montana. It is a large chunk of change that belongs to you, the full-time Montana resident taxpayer. So, enjoy your pizza and know that there are many of your legislators working hard to get your money back to you at the beginning of January.
House Majority Leader Sue Vinton; Senate Majority Leader Cary Smith; Rep. Bill Mercer, R-Billings; Sen. Greg Hertz, R-Polson; Rep. Matt Regier, R-Kalispell, Sen. Dan Bartel, R-Lewistown