LR 123: Something wicked this way comes

July 13, 2012 / Comments (0)


BREAKING NEWS: Aug 10 – LR 123 is OFF the ballot!


A lot of outrageous ideas surfaced in the 2011 Montana Legislature: everything from creating armed militias in every town to seceding from the nation.

MEA-MFT is fighting LR 123 along with a large and growing coalition of Montana citizen groups. Read more at


Most of these bad ideas died, but not all of them. One survivor is Legislative Referendum 123, a measure that gives tax rebates to the richest Montanans even if it means slashing funds for schools, public safety, and all other public services.


Read Montana businesman Ed Jasmine’s guest editorial against LR 123.


The 2011 Legislature passed a bill that automatically puts LR 123 on Montana’s November ballot. Governor Schweitzer vetoed dozens of bad bills, but state law prevents him from vetoing bad legislative referenda like LR 123.


What LR 123 does: LR 123 would create an automatic tax rebate based on what the

legislative fiscal analyst thinks will be in the state’s ending fund balance. Last year, the analyst was off by hundreds of millions of dollars.


Rebates are based on the amount of residential property and income taxes paid by each taxpayer. So the biggest rebates will go to the wealthiest Montanans. People like MEA-MFT members will get the change.


Because the kickbacks happen automatically, they go into effect no matter what the state’s needs are.


MEA-MFT and other groups have filed a lawsuit suit saying LR 123 is unconstitutional. “Montana’s constitution says only the legislature may appropriate money,” explained MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver. “LR 123 unconstitutionally delegates that authority to the legislative fiscal analyst.”


A district judge has agreed with MEA-MFT on this issue, but the case will be appealed to the state Supreme Court. Until the state Supreme Court rules, LR 123 will remain on the ballot.


MEA-MFT is moving full steam ahead to defeat LR 123, partnering with a large, broad-based coalition to do so.


“LR 123 threatens everything our members do, every public service that makes Montana a good place to live,” said Feaver. “Stopping it is a top priority for MEA-MFT. The good news is that the more people learn about it, the less they like it. This battle is winnable.”




LR-123 leave no “grain in the bin.” It’s irresponsible. Montana’s ending fund balance acts as our rainy day fund. That’s how we cope with everything from economic slow-downs to natural disasters like floods and fires.


Montana weathered the most recent recession better than most states because we saved during good times—leaving “grain in the bin” to get us through hard times. LR 123 ends that practice. It would jeopardize funding for the public services that allow Montana families, communities, and businesses to thrive.


LR 123 is dangerous. It encourages more political tricks and gimmicks. LR 123 invites more divisive partisan bickering in the state legislature.


In 2011, Montana’s legislative majority used artificially low budget estimates to justify huge cuts to public services. LR 123 encourages even more games with the budget.


LR 123 is unfair. It favors the super rich over Montana families. LR 123 mandates giving almost two-third of the rebates to the richest 20 percent of Montanans.


Even multi-millionaires who pay no state income taxes would get a tax kickback. Working families, seniors, renters, farmers, and ranchers get left out in the cold. Our tax system is already rigged for rich special interests and against the middle class. LR 123 makes it even worse.


MEA-MFT is part of a broad-based and growing coalition of Montana citizen groups that oppose LR 123.


The coalition includes: MEA-MFT • AARP Montana • Business groups • Clergy •  Children’s Defense Fund Montana • Conservation groups • AFL-CIO and other labor unions • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network • Montana Nurses Association • Montana Public Health Association • and many others.


• State Senator Joe Balyeat (R-Belgrade) carried the bill putting LR 123 on the ballot. So far, he is alone in actively pushing LR 123.

However, we can expect to see big out-of-state money promoting LR 123, just as we did with CI 97 and other right-wing initiatives in 2006. Remember Howie Rich, the multi-millionaire from New York City who secretly bankrolled the CI 97 campaign? Look for his ilk to show up again in this campaign.

Balyeat recently resigned his senate seat to work for “Americans For Prosperity,” a group backed by the ultra-right-wing billionaire Koch brothers.




• Pass the word. Talk to family, friends, and co-workers. Tell them how dangerous LR 123 is.

• Stay informed at

• Arrange a presentation on LR 123 for your local union, service club, or any other group. Contact Sanna Porte at MEA-MFT: [email protected]; 800.398.0826 or 447.1466.

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