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Tax cuts are at the heart of his budget proposal, says Gianforte

Gov. Greg Gianforte previewed a draft budget Thursday that he will unveil in full this week, saying it would include historic tax cuts and service investments for Montana. He says this will also include aid for business and private schools.

The Gianforte administration is crafting a budget proposal factoring in a projected $1.7 billion surplus, which is fueled in part by a windfall of federal stimulus dollars the state received last year.

Gianforte says tax cuts are central to the plan.

“I fundamentally believe that hard-working Montanans should keep more of what they earn.”

Gianforte cannot pass a budget unilaterally and will have to work with the state legislature to get him over the finish line. Republicans now hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state house.

Gianforte proposes a $1 billion cut in income and property taxes, an annual tax credit of $1,200 for each child in a family under age 5, and a tax credit of $5,000 $ for families adopting children.

The income tax reduction will target the highest marginal tax rate in the state, meaning Montanese who earn about $18,000 a year or more will see their taxes reduced.

Gianforte will propose further reductions in the state tax on business equipment and to double the cap on the state tax credit that benefits families who send their children to private school.

The governor wants to invest $300 million in behavioral health services, including Montana State Hospital, which last year lost $7 million in annual federal funds after investigators found gaps in care and patient safety.

Gianforte says one-time federal government funds will not be used to justify permanent tax cuts.

“All of the permanent tax relief we provide comes from structural money that we can be sure will be there in the future.”

Gianforte held Thursday’s press conference before full budget details were released. Governor’s office spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke said there were no plans for the governor to hold another press conference to answer questions about the document once it is released in full on Tuesday.

Budget Director Ryan Osmundson will instead hold a press briefing this week.

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