Just What Counties Are Sucking the Teat Of Government?

by jhwygirl

Try these ones:

All this crap of living within our means and look at the per capita subsidy on some of those counties.



  1. mr benson

    I don’t agree that the payments included are “sucking at the teat of government”.

    If the chart reflected the NET payments, that is, the amount paid from those counties, and then the amount returned to those counties, which, btw, is what many of those revenue classes represent, then the chart would look very different.

    this is just one of those cases of lies, damned lies, and statistics.

    Gallatin is a net payer of state entitlement. The oil and gas counties are net payers of oil and gas, not “receivers” as is shown. They send in a lot, and get some of it back.

    What is really happening is that the oil and gas counties GENERATE a lot more revenue per capita than most of the other counties.

    The grab for the oil and gas revenue by the Governor is just a reflection of the horrible job he’s done with the state’s fiscal situation. If he had done a better job, he wouldn’t have to steal local government revenues such as the ones listed in the chart.

    I’m surprised at you. The impacts of oil and gas are less “per capita” impacts than impacts on infrastructure (roads are by the mile and by the weight of the vehicles) and demands for government services. These counties should be allowed their share to mitigate the impacts.

    And all to what? To Grind some anti republican polemic? There are more defensible arguments than the governor’s grab for the treasure state endowment and other local government funds, because the republicans are hardly to blame for that.

    • Numbers are numbers and they can be worked to show what you want to show sometimes…but they don’t lie either.

      And I don’t see anything amiss here.

      But one thing I would like to see is to have the federal money taken out of it. The legislature has no control over SRS and PILT and those dollars dolled out directly to the counties. Let’s see that other stuff – the wealth of the State of Montana, absent property taxes – and see how that’s distributed per capita

    • carfreestupidity

      If you want to talk net payments and the revenue side of things mr benson take a look at the chart above.

      44% of state revenue comes from income vs. 5.8% from oil & gas royalties. That really means that the counties with the biggest populations, Yellowstone, Missoula, Cascade, Silverbow, and Gallatin actually pay for the majority of the state’s budget. Those five counties probably also pay the majority of motor vehicle, property, and corporate taxes.

      I would say that those counties actually pay more per capita to the state than they get back in return. While the oil and gas still end up in the positive side of things. If you look at both the map and chart, you will see that oil & gas royalties almost exactly match oil & gas payments from the state.

      The other big programs listed on the map – education and entitlements – on a per capita basis cost more in the rural eastern part of the state specifically because of the low population density. It is simply more difficult and costly to provide those services when a population is small and highly spread out.

      • mr benson

        But you’re just guessing. I’m not. That’s the difference, CFS.

        The oil and gas counties produce the revenue. They send most of it to Helena. Now Helena wants ALL OF IT.

        That’s not a “payment to a county”. That’s taking money from the county.

        • carfreestupidity

          Again… Oil and gas royalties account for 5.8% of revenues. Not a guess, that’s a fact. Oil and gas revenues are only 13% of what income taxes bring in. Oil and gas counties contribute shit compared to what Missoula or Billings contribute to this state.

          • mr benson

            Sounds like the state has plenty of revenue then, and it should be able to leave counties’ and cities’ revenues alone.

        • Why should those counties get to keep it? I don’t get it. That industry is like any other business. It creates jobs it creates a tax base it manufactures a product and adds value. I don’t care if it’s burgers or crude.

          Under what justification do they get to keep over and above normal tax revenue off of it?

          Oil and gas and gold and silver and copper and anything else are a wealth of the state. People own their mineral rights, but the estate is the citizens of Montana.

          Not the residents of Richland County.

          Richland isn’t Alaska where every citizen gets a cut of oil and gas – and that is effectively what is going on – certain counties have been getting disbursements off of estate mineral revenue.

          Do you understand why these coal and oil and gas trusts were found? Those resources are not unlimited. These industries come in, extract and boom and bust and move on. It’s hush money, for lack of a better word…or welfare as I see it.

          Again – where is the free market in all this?

          • mr benson

            The free market’s got nothing to do with anything. This is the state making a grab for revenue that has always been used to pay for local government services. It’s no different than grabbing a larger share of the property taxes.

            The legislature needs to live within it’s means, and let counties live within theirs. When you can’t adjust property tax levies but so much a year, and the state makes a big grab for other revenues, that doesn’t leave much room to manuver.

            this isn’t about the industry; this is about Brian and the legislature balancing the state budget on the backs of local governments’ taxpayers. They can then claim not to have increased taxes…hey, local governments can just choose to operate with less, right?

          • mr benson

            Again, these are local government revenues that are used to pay for local government services. The revenues to which you and carefreestupidity refer are state revenues.

            The state should live within it’s revenues, and leave the counties’ revenues alone. Instead, they’re proposing to take the local govt entitlement share (of motor vehicle taxes and other previously local govt revenue) and the treasure state endowment fund, and the oil and gas revenues, and balance it’s budget.

            Heaven forbid there’s a nickel left unspent in any local government coffer, because the two of you are going to steal it to cover the governor and legislature’s fiscal incompetency at the state level.

            • I believe we completely disagree on a basic premise.

              I do NOT think than any part of coal or oil or gas royalties should be siphoned off solely for the coal and oil and gas counties.

              I do believe that coal and oil and gas counties should get to keep 100% of the taxes they generate just as all other counties.

              Coal oil and gas are royalties that are owned by the citizens of the state of Montana.

              I take offense at the accusation that I am ‘covering’ the Governor.

              • mr benson

                That’s because you don’t know the history of the state’s continual grab for local government revenues; motor vehicle taxes, corporate license taxes, personal property taxes, oil and gas royalties, and local mill levies have all been grabbed up by the state, sometimes for good reason, sometimes for bad. This time it’s bad.

                That’s the “basic premise”. The legislature and Governor are using local government revenues to balance the state budget. It’s been done before, and it’s going to be done this time. Treasure state endowment, local entitlement share and oil and gas revenues are all going to be sucked up by a greedy state government to balance it’s budget.

                Leaving local governments either to cut services or raise local property taxes to balance budgets previously balanced with these revenues.

                No need to be offended; just be informed.

  2. mr benson

    If you just tossed in the amounts spent in Gallatin and Missoula counties for higher education, the chart would look different. I’m tellin ya, you drank the kool aid.

    • I come from Wyoming. Down there – and they had to get sued a couple of times to get it right – down there they have to make a cost-of-living adjustment per county to distribute those education dollars. So counties where the cost of living is high..where teachers are more expensive – the state had to distribute the cash equitably.

      As for higher ed, don’t you think that given the tax exemption status of the universities in Bozeman and Missoula and Billings and Dillon and everywhere else, don’t you think that whatever revenue that is generated out of that economic bomb is at least somewhat offset by the police and fire and additional services required of a much more service intense population?

    • jc263

      Speakin of koolaid, jhwygirl’s post is about payments to counties, not state expenditures in counties (like higher ed).

      Yes the two are different. And yes, counties have different needs depending on a variety of factors–like being rural, or mostly national forest, or heavily impacted by oil & gas exploration/drilling, mining, etc.

      But the point being made, that some counties are more dependent on the state government for revenue, is relevant, particularly when there is such an adamant anti-state government sentiment out there–the hypocrisy jhwygirl is on a roll pointing out and having a grand laugh over. I don’t see this post as much being about the spending and critiquing it as much as it is about the general two-faced nature of our anti-government caucus these days.

      It’s easy to lambast state and federal governments in one breath, and then turn the other cheek and gladly accept the largesse it hands out. It makes the lambaster look petty, and discounts what good things the state and fed government does do. And discredits the role of government and those who work for it in general.

    • carfreestupidity

      So… and your point is mr benson? The amount spent on higher education in a given county benefits the whole state, not just that single county.

  3. Whoa there…you are making some assumptions there.

    Let me first walk back…but I want to say that the map comes from the Legislative Fiscal Division…which, as I know it, has been challenging the governor on a number of things, including his revenue projections.

    That being said, I’m going back to re-read and see how much mea culpa I need to claim.

    Regarding, though, the bloviator’s grab of oil & gas, I don’t think it is a “grab” and I believe it is wholly fair. In fact, I believe the current ‘arrangement’ to be unfair.

    And I’ve said so in past posts and comments, long before this proposal surfaced.

    Oil and gas and minerals? They are the property of the state. The state and its citizens. Not just certain citizens…or more of it for some citizens and only so much of it for others.

    Beyond that, where in the hell is the so-called “free market” in this? Why do certain counties get to get this subsidy – because that is what it is, a subsidy for things like (as I’ve heard the pleas) firetrucks and schools and roads.

    Why isn’t this so-called high profit industry paying sufficient taxes to support the infrastructure it is generating? Or is the community living beyond its means?

    Why can’t the communities where oil and gas rule support themselves without this special coal trust money? Without oil and gas trust money? Shouldn’t the tax dollars these oil and gas businesses generate on property taxes and income tax from all the employees iand then, in turn, the property taxes on those employees be enough to sufficiently operate these towns and counties?

    There isn’t any timber trust as far as I know passing out extra money to the counties out west for all the timber that is cut. They get the tax revenue off of the land (classified as timber)…they get the tax revenue off the mills, and they get the tax revenue off of the loggers and all the employees generated. And property tax just the same as the oil and gas counties.

    And don’t be fooled into thinking resources are’t getting used out here. In as much as there are thousands of leases held in the Bakken that are undrilled. Banked. Small capital investment companies waiting to be bought….there is timber lands held.

    At least the stuff on our side grows back. Once they use it up over there, it’s gone. Then they’ll really be sucking the teat.

    Anyways – you brought up the so-called raid of the oil and gas fund. Now I’m going back to read.

  4. mr benson

    All right! We’re back on track. Do the motor vehicle taxes paid by Gallatin County citizens “belong to the state as a whole” or should GC and it’s cities keep that money in order to fix the streets and roads impacted by the new and additional vehicles?

    It’s the same with the oil and gas counties, imo. I appreciate your additional research.

    I know one of the counties in the yellow built up big reserves from the federal timber payments. But it’s poor, it’s people are poor, and it and has huge problems. I just don’t can’t see the Governor’s entitlement to their money.

    I don’t the K-12 lobby is entitled to their money, either.

    BTW, the legislature’s spectacular excesses is making the Governor look positively even handed and sane by comparison.

  5. mr benson

    Oh, and don’t forget, property taxes are capped and local govt’s budget increases capped to only using new construction and one half the past years’ inflation rate for old building’s new value. Property taxes alone cannot keep up with rapidly growing counties or oil and gas counties need for services and infrastructure.

    (just wanted to answer your question)

  6. hoffilosophy

    Not getting into any arguments here but what I find interesting about this map is that a few of those Eastern MT counties that get the highest per capita payments of state monies are the same counties that have the most oil/gas money…and they don’t want to share it across the state.

    Just an observation

  7. carfreestupidity

    It would be interesting to have the opposite of this map… showing revenue taken in to the state by county.

  8. Dan

    jhwygirl, if you are going to go do some reading, start with Twentieth Century Montana, A State of Extremes, by K. Ross Toole.

  9. Scoop Montana

    Proposed rules for blogging:

    1. Do not write about an article (or graph) when you do not understand what says.

    2. If done, admit your error. Don’t spend two hours and 5,000 words trying to make people think otherwise.

    Amazing, the verbal gymnastics defending this post.

  1. 1 Did Ya’all Know That Many Eastern Counties Don’t Have a School Levy? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] called it unfair. I’ve decried the conservatives lambasting of the proposal as further evidence of their hypocrisy towards government subsidies. I’ve complained about how it it shows an abandonment of the free market – and example […]

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