Legislature needs conservative leadership

by David Dunn
March 15, 2020 1:00 AM

The moderate “Conservative Solutions Caucus” of the Republican party are hinting at proposing a new state sales tax. Their proposal upsets me greatly. Once a sales tax is implemented it is never going away. How about we stop the automatic growth of Helena budgets? Use savings for tax relief. When is the last time government rescinded a form of taxation? Never? Our collective problem is property taxes. We as a Legislature should fix our budget needs without creating new taxes by reviewing the merits of our spending. State government has grown at a healthy pace for 16 years of Democratic administration in Helena. It’s time to change that. I will be working against the sales tax proposals by the moderates of my party if the people of Evergreen and Northeast Kalispell vote for me in the June 2 primary. Our state has the resources to thrive economically with better leadership in the Governor’s Office.

Montana agriculture should pursue hemp fiber value-added processing. Commodity hemp fiber is a growing market, hemp fiber blends have large growth potential for manufacturers. We have the land and the knowledge to grow but as a state we need better value-added processing solutions (decortification, combine, mill) to make hemp co-ops great again. Our university system should pioneer different hemp fiber seeds for our climate and different ways large growers can harvest for fiber.

Our school system’s teacher salary on average is not equitable to neighboring states. I want to work with a Republican administration on increasing teacher pay. With all the expenditures state government makes, we must do better for our teachers. Our state has abundant resources yet is saddled with an anti-business climate in Helena. We should mimic the Idaho/Wyoming natural resource model with help from the Trump administration.

The “Good Neighbor Authority” in the 2019 session is the type of legislation which I support and should be promoted in our future. Executive and legislative leadership in Helena should make natural resource exploration simpler and more conducive to investment. The people of Montana can grow our extractive industries like mining and timber while protecting our environment, it is not a zero-sum proposition. I am of the belief that growing industry can supplement funding our school systems and reducing property tax burdens. The people of our county deserve property tax reform.

We need a business-oriented administration in Helena and Montanans deserve it. I received an 88% conservative voting rating from the ACU for the 2019 session. I humbly submit that our Legislature can work only as well as a Governor leads. Conservative values have been in a defensive position in Helena for 16 years. While it is common for all of us to focus on our federal election, I urge Montanans to focus more on our governor’s race. The primary this year is June 2 and both parties have a multitude of contested statewide elections.

—Republican state Rep. David Dunn represents House District 9 in Kalispell and Evergreen