Mont. Governor Vetoes Workers’ Comp Tax

May 6, 2011

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has used his line item veto power to strike a a 2.75 percent workers’ compensation premium tax on insurance sold by the Montana State Fund to pay for continuing claims for workers injured before July 1990.

“Late on the last day of the regular session of the 62nd Legislature, a conference committee comprised of six legislators substantially re-worked HB 604. To the surprise and objection of many …” the Governor wrote in his veto message.

Absent this tax increase, these claims will be paid under current law out of the general fund.

Schweitzer said the bill was passed with “great division and dissent.”

“Most outrageous, however, is that the tax to be charged employers until the year 2023 — anticipated to raise approximately $7,314,660 over the next biennium, alone –was supported by a majority of conservative legislators who identified as primary goals both job — creation and the lowering of workers’ compensation costs for Montana employers. The mechanisms in HB 604 to pay old fund workers’ compensation liabilities do nothing to create jobs or lower workers’ compensation premiums for Montana employers. In fact, they do the exact opposite.”

Schwitzer said Montanans should not forget how the debt was created. In 2003, the Legislature took $52.6 million from the “old fund” to help the general fund.

“I oppose this tax on Montana businesses of roughly $7,314,660 over the next biennium to pay for the anticipated ‘old fund’ liabilities,” he said, noting he has stricken it from HB 604.

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