Then there’s Montana State Sen. Art Wittich (R). Wittich introduced legislation this week that only cuts Montana’s top tax rate, and unlike his fellow Republicans, there is no corresponding middle class “tax cut” that hides his true intent:
Senate Bill 170, by Sen. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, would reduce the tax levied on the highest income tax bracket from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent.
According to the fiscal note on the bill, the measure would reduce state tax revenues by an estimated $125 million in the next biennium and $170 million in the 2016-2017 biennium.
Wittich originally proposed offsetting the cost by raising the corporate income tax by one percentage point, but when he was criticized for violating a tenet of Republican tax orthodoxy, he said he was willing to scrap that provision and let economic growth make up for the revenue losses. Of course, that’s the same argument Bush made, and it didn’t work out so well.
Meanwhile, Montana’s tax code is already skewed toward the wealthy. The bottom 20 percent of Montanans pay 6.4 percent of their income in total taxes, while the wealthiest one percent pay only 4.7 percent. Montana also allows a deduction for federal taxes and gives a huge break for investment income, all of which disproportionately benefits the wealthy.
Wittich’s bill would make the tax code more regressive, while also leaving the state with a sizable loss in revenue. But while Wittich may not get a passing grade in economic policy, at least he earned an ‘A’ for honesty.