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New tax break hopes to draw military veterans to Montana, says governor

Billings Gazette - 11/9/2023

Nov. 8—Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte visited Billings Wednesday to talk about a new law designed to support veterans and attract retired military personnel to the state.

"When veterans move or come home to Montana, our communities benefit, and our state is stronger," Gianforte said. "We needed to make Montana more competitive to veterans, and thanks to support from our partners in the legislature and countless advocates, we got it done."

During a visit to Red Oxx, a second-generation veteran-owned business in Billings, the governor highlighted Senate Bill 104, sponsored by Sen. John Fuller, R-Kalispell, that exempts up to 50 percent of military retirement pay from the state income tax.

The bill will go into effect Jan. 1.

"Nobody is a better teacher than the military. I want to encourage those Master Sergeants, Sergeant Majors, Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels, and Generals to come to Montana for more than the scenery — come and contribute to our economy," Fuller said.

Several of the bill's proponents joined the governor for the press conference including Roger Hagan, a veteran and Legislative Chairman of the Montana Department of the American Legion, and Tim Sheehy, a veteran and CEO of Bridger Aerospace.

Military retirees typically are aged 39 to 42 and when they leave the service, said Roger Hagan, a veteran and Legislative Chairman of the Montana Department of the American Legion.

"They start careers or businesses," he said. "They are well-educated, they are drug-free, and they have their own health care. This was a great opportunity for us to bring more people to Montana to enhance our workforce and make sure we've got what we need."

Jim Markel, a veteran and CEO of Red Oxx, said his father served 26 years in the military and retired in Billings.

"And I did my stint for four years," he said. "This probably would have been a big help for getting our business started. This is really like a head start, to be able to keep more of your capital, to reinvest into equipment, hire more people, or buy new buildings."

Montana has one of the top per-capital veteran populations in the nation," added Tim Sheehy, a veteran who is currently running for U.S. Senate.

"Our veterans come home, they know how to get a mission done, they know how to work as a team, they're highly trained, and they're ready to go to work," he said. "Veterans are ready to step in and drive our economy forward."


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