Dust-Up in Big Sky Country

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Montana's Special Session adjourned Tuesday after the state's biennial budget received final approval. The regular 2007 legislative session ground to an acrimonious halt late last month. The main stumbling blocks were how to spend a projected $1 billion surplus and whether lawmakers would enact a temporary property tax "rebate," as Democratic leaders proposed, or a more permanent property tax reduction, as Republicans suggested. Ultimately a one-time $400 rebate for homeowners survived the cantankerous debate, but a tax credit of up to $120 for renters failed to win final approval. Property tax cuts for businesses that would have exempted the first $80,000 of business equipment from tax were also left out of the final budget. Ultimately the agreed upon budget is likely to be viewed as a political win for Governor Brian Schweitzer as no doubt he and other policymakers will take credit for "cut[ing] more taxes for more Montanans than any time in history."

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