State Rep. Mike Jopek Reminds Taxpayers How They Got the Bill They Got

by jhwygirl

Kalispell’s Mike Jopek reminds taxpayers – most who are getting an average increase of 15%, but many out here on the western side of the state are getting hit much higher – who to thank when that bill comes in the mail.

All but one Senate Republican.
90% of House Republicans.
25% of House Democrats
50% of Senate Democrats.

House Republicans mangled his bill, so much so that even Jopek couldn’t vote for his own bill, in the end. “They ignored the fiscal note that said the bill would increase taxes dramatically for many,” Jopek said. The final days, in the Free Conference frenzy that is the last of the session, finals cuts and amendments were made that impacted many:

The Republican Senate hijacked the House version of the final mitigation bill and exempted only 85 percent of the effect of growth. The Senate amended the House bill, which mitigated 100 percent of reappraisal, and forced homeowners and downtown businesses to pay $6 million more in taxes over the biennium and another $6 million over the cycle.

Senate Republicans removed all the assistance to the elderly, disable, and poor homeowners and renters. Then Senate Republicans added a new tax on homes worth more that $1.5 million.

Take that new tax Republican’s added – Just where are all those $1.5 million homes? Oddly – Barkus voted for this bill, while Zinke, the lone Republican Senator, voted No.

Where else? Ravalli County – where both Sens. Liable and Shockley voted YES to the bill which added that special new tax.

In Bozeman? Only Sen. Bob Hawks held out, voting no.

$1.5 might sound like a lot – but in these places, it doesn’t take a lot to meet that threshold – especially if you are an older resident who bought your hope decades. In other words – maybe that threshold should have been a bit higher? So as not to capture up a bunch of lifelong residents, and instead maybe focused its grab on 2nd and 3rd home owners?

Jopek saves some love for realtors, too:

Over the years, the Montana Association of Realtors adamantly opposed our attempts to cap homeowner’s taxes to inflationary growth, to reappraise only upon the sale of a home, and to abate a portion of property taxes for homeowners whom file income taxes. Seems like lobbyists believe that if we stay put in our homes, it’s bad for their industry.

  1. goof houlihan

    I’m not following his logic. We pay property taxes based on the market value of our homes. The market value goes up, we pay more taxes, the market value goes down, we pay more taxes. More taxes and more taxes are legislatures, school boards and local governments failure to say “no” to new programs and spending.

    The local taxing authorities, counties, cities and school districts, OF COURSE reduced their mill levies by the amount of the increased value of a mill, RIGHT!?

    I know, that’s a laugh. But it’s the way it should work.

    The state, of course, with the big surplus the Governor brags about, didn’t drop the number of mills from 101 to anything less, for example, to the proportionate percentage that the taxable value of the base increased. So the only beneficiaries of the increased value SHOULD BE, the holy mantra of liberals everywhere, ejucashun! The 101 mills is 40 state equalization, 55 “county equalization” and the six mill levy for the higher education system. If there’s a windfall in those funds, they’ll be used to help education. We are all for increased spending in ejucashun, right?

    The real problem? SPENDING

    Now, I’m an advocate for cost as the basis for property taxes. Ditch the complicated spreadsheets, and the odd formulas and the phase ins. Pay taxes on the value of your home the day you bought it, as accountants say, “historical cost”. The day you sell it, it gets reappraised. The little ole lady who stays in her house sixty years, hardly impacts schools or local govt at all. The constant flippers? Bear the brunt of the increased services they demand.

    The constitution requires equal treatment. Jopek’s ideas didn’t hit that criteria. And Bob Story knows more about property taxes than the rest of the legislature combined.

    What really has creamed fast growth counties is the “big bill” No longer do motor vehicle taxes and corporate license taxes from all those new banks in the fast growing counties go to the local taxing authorities. Instead, they’re doled out to the state based on some stupid measurement from back in 2001.

    In the past, the older areas of these fast growing parts of Montana had not had their reappraisals accurately calculated. Then the absurdly low reappraisals were phased in. This meant that the newer parts of town carried a far greater measure of bonds and new taxes than older parts of town. This new appraisal really did help with that, and now there’s all this howling? Control government spending, and then your fair share will be smaller, and ours too.

    • DJohnson

      The whole reappraisal process instituted by the 1972 constitution is responsible for more superfluous spending , taxpayer anxiety, and insult to the principle of individual property ownership, than could possibly be justified by it’s assumed benefits.
      Reappraisal has been a shell game used by the state to shift education funds among districts to pacify the desires of the militant segments of the education lobby who in turn have sued the state mutiple times seeking additional revenue.
      Property taxpayers need to reestablish control over their own destiny by removing this process from the control of legislators. We do this through an initiative wherein ANY valuation increases are AUTOMATICALLY adjusted by proportional reductions in their respective levies. This makes the process automatically revenue neutral, and mandates that any tax increases require a majority vote of the electorate. Simple, transparent and providing accountability in the hands of taxpayers themselves.

      • JC

        So, if I have this right, you think that “the principle of individual property ownership” is greater than the social goal of having a well educated populace?

        If that is what you are saying, then I guess that your priorities are well represented by your comment.

  2. Anon

    jhwygirl says who to thank when that bill comes in the mail.

    Ya think ya might want to thank the DOR (appointed by the Democrat governor)for their inaccurate estimates? Or can any party make mistakes?

    Ya think ya might want to thank the R’s for talking about calling for a special session to address this while the D’s and the governor are against it, thinking they can just spend the extra income?

    Jopek is so full of it, trying to just shift the blame in his district so he can maybe get re-elected. His crap about linking property taxes to income is a terrible idea. Chair of the AG committee with his ~7 acre organic farm – really represents the TRUE AG producers in the state!

    What’s next?? A colored card you show in the grocery store saying this person gets this loaf of bread for $1 instead of the $3 regular price and you get to pay $5 for it because you can afford it?

  3. Paul


    who to thank when that bill comes in the mail.
    All but one Senate Republican.
    90% of House Republicans.
    25% of House Democrats
    50% of Senate Democrats.

    So if just 5 or 6 more House Democrats had voted against it, it would have failed and appraisals would have gone up by 55% average across the State. Too bad they couldn’t get a consensus!

  4. You make some assumptions there, Anon – and maybe that’s my fault for not writing about every gosh darn thing I think about.

    But first – I “might want to thank the R’s for talking about calling for a special session to address this…”? “This” what? The MT GOP want to call a special session for business taxes, not private property owners…although now I assume to some extent they’ve been backed into a wall.

    Look – Repubicans hijacking legislation happened quite a few times, and they pulled it off successfully on some legislation that would have been very fine environmental law – and they tried to pull it off on CHIP. So to put forth that Jopek is whining about nothing – I’m sorry – is completely not something I’m gonna believe.

    As for the other? I’m not a fan of the lunacy in Montana reappraisal. We appraise every 6 years. No one likes the fact that their property is worth more. Legislators try innovative ways to mitigate the appraisal. In the end, no one is ever happy and someone is always trying to claim victory.

    All the while, out of state tax scofflaws run amuck under the protection of “business”.

    And, nor do I have a problem at all with what goof proposes. This state wastes significant money, if you ask me, on appraisals and the massive work that goes into that. Open up those disclosure laws, and tax property and the value of what it was bought for. Though I suspect that realtors and those “business interests” would have a bird on that one.

    Do tell me, though, who is representing the true AG owners in the state? Look at who tromped on senior water rights by voting YES to this bill (which, thankfully, our mint farmer Governor vetoed.)

    Don’t go preaching AG/common people interests – the MT GOP is all about business over people, coal bed methane developers over Tongue River ranchers – just like what we’re seeing in other political arenas.

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