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Montana Policy Institute
Montana will become the first state in the nation to prohibit illegal aliens from collecting workers’ compensation if a bill introduced in the 2011 state Legislature is passed into law, according to an official from the National Employment Law Project.
Bozeman Republican House Member, Gordon Vance, said the idea for the legislation, House Bill 71, comes from his experience with the workers’ compensation issue when he was on a committee that examined the costs of the program. Despite rates that have been declining over the past five years, Montana has the most expensive workers’ compensation rates among all states.
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 Legislative Fiscal Division has released a report projecting the state would be facing a $383 million budget gap for the 2013 biennium, setting the stage for a battle between the Democratic governor and the Republican controlled Legislature .
The report acknowledged that while the governor’s reductions narrowed the gap, increased costs for kindergarten through 12th grade schools and the Department for Health and Human Services would leave the state with a shortfall of about $383 million. That’s in comparison to the just under $400 million estimate in March and $368 million in September.
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.
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.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103