Polson businessman Greg Hertz will be returning to the state legislature in January, this time as a member of the State Senate, after having served as Speaker of the House in years past.

Hertz commented this week about the upcoming session, the Republican sweep of state races and how Montana will not only have a Republican majority, but for the first time in 16 years, will have the cooperation of a Republican Governor-elect, Greg Gianforte.

“With our majorities now, we need to be careful as to how we proceed,” said Hertz. “We want to make sure we're representing all the folks in Montana. But as usual, I mean our priority is going to be balancing the budget. We're going to probably have some loss in revenue this year and that could be from $200 to $300 million dollars. We're going to be firm on the issue of no new taxes. So we're going to have to find that money within the budget.”

Hertz also spent some time discussing the rapid rise in property taxes.

“That has to do with making sure the appraisal system is fair and making sure that we smooth out the spikes that everybody is seeing in their property taxes lately, due to significant increases in valuations,” he said. “We're going to see that again here shortly with all the recent property sales in Montana that as you have seen increased prices around the state.”

Hertz speculated on how the legislature might remedy the situation.

“The legislature decides the taxable value, so that taxable value is a percentage of the market value so that you can adjust the taxable value,” he said. “That's what the legislature has done in the past. We had a six year reappraisal cycle, and now we're on a two year cycle. We may look at going back to the six year; there's a lot of talk about that, in that it allows you to phase in some increases over a six year period, instead of people getting hit all of a sudden at once, and that's been some of the problems we've had lately.”

Hertz also spoke about Montana’s Governor-elect, Republican Greg Gianforte.

“It's going to be a breath of fresh air,” he said. There are a lot of rules and regulations that have hampered businesses over the years and have not allowed certain areas to expand and made it more difficult. So that will be one of Governor Gianforte’s primary focuses to reduce regulations and attract higher paying jobs. Some of those will be related to high tech, but a lot of them will be related to natural resource development which we need to continue to do in Montana and also make sure our environment continues to stay clean and healthy for everybody to use.”

The next session of the Montana Legislature will run for 90 days starting in January of 2021.

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