6-mill levy makes good sense for Montana

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Seventy years ago, as Montana was rebuilding its economy after World War II, state leaders took the visionary step of putting a 6-mill levy on the ballot to help fund higher education. The referendum passed, and every 10 years since 1948 voters have supported the levy, knowing that access to education means better opportunities for our students that ultimately translates into stronger businesses and communities throughout the state.

Now it’s time once again for Montanans to consider continuing the 6-mill levy for another 10 years. With the Nov. 6 general election just over two weeks away, there’s a lot of political noise out there about what to support and what to reject.

We can say without a doubt that continuing the 6-mill levy makes good sense for Montana. And we’ll help you sort out the facts from the misnomers.

The 6-mill levy, listed on the ballot as Legislative Referendum LR-128, is not a new tax. It’s a continuation of Montana’s commitment to its universities, and the tax has been levied at the same number of mills for seven decades. Today, it equates to about $27 a year for a $225,000 home.

The levy provides about $20 million a year to public colleges and universities in Montana, roughly 10 percent of the total state-appropriated funding for higher education. That money provides educational support for more than 40,000 students. It enhances the quality of Montana’s higher-education programs while defraying tuition costs for Montana students.

What it boils down to is this: do we want to ensure that Montana students have educational opportunities to help them compete for jobs in today’s diverse economy? Yes, we do.

The 6-mill levy traditionally has had bipartisan support since the beginning, and we trust that tradition will continue. This year the 6-mill levy has the full support of Montana’s two senators and other elected leaders, including Montana’s governor. It has our full support, too.

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