Posted: Oct 26, 2012 8:46 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Oct 26, 2012 9:50 AM
HELENA - With less than two weeks before Election Day, neither candidate in Montana's race for governor has a clear lead.
Democrat Steve Bullock and Republican Rick Hill both say that they want the exact same thing for Montana - more jobs and a better economy - but when it comes to reaching those goals, they couldn't be further apart.
Bullock sees a bright future for Montana and as governor, he wants to promote innovation and encourage students to study and work here: "It's not just about 2013, it's really about what Montana can be and will be with proper stewardship and development."
His jobs plan includes grants and start-up capital for small businesses, eliminating the business equipment tax for companies with less than $100,000 worth of equipment, and working with the Montana University System to make sure students can get a job in state.
Bullock said, "We'll build the industries of the future, the jobs that my kids will have that I couldn't even have imagined as a child. With the proper work we can build them right here."
He adds that one of the most critical parts to improving the state's economy is making sure every Montana family has access to higher education: "Tuition was increased. That is a tax on every working family. So, I do think we need to keep tuition frozen."
He is also actively campaigning on his work as Montana's current attorney general by protecting the state's campaign finance laws, and standing up for clean elections: "Our system in Montana is different, independent expenditures could ultimately corrupt them."
Even though Bullock has criticized his opponent for accepting $500,000 from the Republican Party, the issue of campaign finance has ended up as a talking point for Hill.
Hill said, "Steve is supported by the environmentalists. He is supported by the trial lawyers. Those are the two groups that have put Montana in the place that it is. Today we are near the bottom. There was a time we were near the top. Our goal is to get us back to the top again."
Bullock counters, "My opponent has gone time and time again to try and find some statistic to make Montana look a heck of a lot worse than it really is. (At) times I don't think I'm running against a former Congressman, I'm running against Chicken Little saying that the sky is falling."
Hill fired back, "Obviously there are good things in Montana. We live in a wonderful state. We have a wonderful work ethic. We have great people, and we have a lot of smart successful business people. But the truth is that we could be doing so much more if we could tackle these things that are a problem."
Hill says that businesses are strangled by regulatory burdens as well as by a hostile tax and legal climate: "Our goal is to get more jobs in Montana and better jobs in Montana and we are going to do that by changing the business climate."
His plan includes getting government out of the way by trimming the budget, and at the same time increasing funding for education and tapping Montana's natural resources: "If this oil and gas boom comes like it could, you know, it could be hundreds of millions of dollars. We want to set aside $100 million of that per year permanently dedicated to education funding, because education in Montana is almost exclusively funded by property taxes, and use that to offset the levies. That will significantly reduce property taxes for every homeowner, every business in Montana."
Bullock and Hill will square of in a live televised debate Saturday at 9 p.m. that will air on KBZK and KXLF.