Posted: Oct 27, 2012 10:32 PM by MTN News
Updated: Oct 27, 2012 10:33 PM
BOZEMAN - The final debate between Montana's gubernatorial candidates was a lively one Saturday night as the candidates squared off before a live television audience at Riverside Country Club in Bozeman.
The debate between Steve Bullock (D) and Rick Hill (R) turned heated at several points over issues, including sales tax. The two went back and forth on the issue of sales tax with both saying they would not support it.
"If it ever came to my desk, I'd veto it," Bullock said, adding that Hill has supported a sales tax in the past.
"Wait a minute, Steve, I have never proposed a sales tax in this campaign," Hill said.
Tension also built after Hill took aim at Bullock's record, ticking off several items during Bullock's time as attorney general that he felt Bullock failed. In response, Bullock fired back at Hill about his record as congressman. Bullock then went on to add that he is proud of his record as attorney general, citing his work on tackling drinking and driving.
Hill then went on to counter that he is proud of his time in Congress, having reformed welfare and cut taxes.
Bullock then had the opportunity to ask Hill a question. Bullock said Hill has voted against a minimum wage increase and asked why he does not support it.
Hill states that every study shows that increasing minimum wage leads to a decrease in jobs. He said there are a record number of young people unemployed in Montana and it's largely due to increasing the minimum wage.
But the first question out of the gate Saturday night was about the controversial $500,000 donation to Hill's campaign from the Montana Republican Party. On Monday, Helena District Court will be the site of another showdown between Hill and Bullock when the two campaigns lock horns before District Judge Kathy Seeley over the issue. Bullock's campaign sued last week to prevent Hill from spending the $500,000 donation which Bullock says was not only illegal but unethical. That lawsuit resulted in a temporary restraining order against the Hill campaign and forced Hill to pull his TV advertising bought with the disputed cash.
Tonight, Hill insisted that the donation was legal.
Every other statewide candidate that took money during that period returned it, Bullock said.
"This was transparent, legal. We will be vindicated in the end," Hill said.
Polls have the two candidates in a dead heat.