Despite opposition from environmental interests in the US, officials of TransCanada Corp, builders of the Keystone XL pipeline through Montana expressed confidence of getting permitted to extend the line.
An article in the Calgary Herald reported that in an interview with TransCanada’s new chief executive Russ Girling, the CEO expressed confidence that even though the BP oil spill ratcheted up concern about the pipeline. “…the U.S. is going to continue to import oil for decades to come,” he is quoted, “They consume 10 million barrels per day now, with Canada the key exporter.”
Montana has once again been ranked as the sixth best state business tax climate by the Tax Foundation in its State business Tax climate Index. The state has consistently held the sixth place position for the last four years. South Dakota is ranked number one. Wyoming is number three. The report recognized that states that lack one of the major taxes is a dominant factor in “vaulting” the top ten states into position. Montana does not have a sales tax, Wyoming and South Dakota have no income tax.
The report said, “The lesson is simple; a state that raises sufficient revenue without one of the major taxes will, all things being equal, out-compete those states that levy every tax in the state tax collector’s arsenal.”
New York ranked dead last preceded by California and New Jersey.
There have recently been news reports and commentaries claiming that government employees tend to be paid more than those in the private sector when comparing the same kind of jobs. While there have been those who claim that the comparisons are skewed and distorted, a comparison of 2009 household income levels in Montana tends to support the idea.
Lewis and Clark County – the home of state government, whose economy is dominated by public sector jobs — has the highest median income level per household in the state. Half of the households have incomes above $50,425, and half below that figure.
The state is denying claims made by a government accounting watchdog that it has nearly $1 billion in “off-sheet” liability while the group making the accusations is standing by its research.
In a response to a Nov. 11 Montana Watchdog story “Montana does not have funds to pay commitments, report says,” Paul A. Christofferson, an administrator in the state accounting division of the Department of Administration, says the accusations by the Institute for Truth in Accounting are wrong.
“I do not agree with the findings in the report and we do not have a $1 billion off-sheet liability,” Christofferson stated in an e-mail to Montana Watchdog. “The state of Montana is not in financial jeopardy and does have money to pay its bills.”
Montana Policy Institute
State employees will be staying closer to home as Gov. Brian Schweitzer has imposed a ban on out of state travel in the hopes of saving money.
“I’m challenging every expense,” Schweitzer told Montana Watchdog this week. “There’s nothing too big to challenge.”
Schweitzer said he issued the directive several weeks ago and added that all requests for out of state travel have to be approved by Viv Hammill, his chief of staff.
Respondents Give Answers on
Economic, Political and Business Issues
A new poll shows some important voter trends as the Montana Legislature gets ready for its legislative session and Congress debates important federal issues. The Power Base (P-base) is an annual scientific poll of 600 Montana voters on a variety of business and political issues with a margin of error of 4.1%. The poll is commissioned by the Montana Chamber of Commerce and other business groups in mid-November to determine what regular Montanans think about important economic issues facing our state. Here are some of the results:
The Big Sky Business Journal
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