Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The only Republican to announce his candidacy for Montana governor in the 2008 election was in Havre Tuesday on a 50-city swing through the state, saying he wants to show people in the state the differences between him and Gov. Brian Schweitzer. “They will have a clear choice,” said Roy Brown, a state senator from Billings. Brown, 56, who served four terms as a state representative including as majority whip in 2001, majority leader from 2002-2004 and House Republican leader in 2005-2006, could not run for re-election to that position due to term limits and successfully ran for a Senate seat. He said he has four primary reasons he is running for governor, the first being that he believes government spending is completely out of control, the second that he wants to help people find property tax relief, the third that he wants to create more accountability in campaign finance reporting an openness in government. His fourth goal is to better promote Montana, Brown said. Brown announced his candidacy Thursday. “A lot of people think I’m getting in late but I think a lot of people are getting tired of this 24-month campaigning, so I am limiting myself to 12 months,” he said jokingly. Brown credits the budget surpluses that Schweitzer has seen to the actions of the Republican-led state Legislature under Republican Govs. Marc Racicot and Judy Martz. He said the current leadership is jeapordizing those surpluses. “These (surpluses) don’t happen overnight, they happen over time,” Brown said, adding that cuts in areas like business equipment taxes, oil and gas taxes, capital gains taxes and income taxes led to new investment and income that increased the state revenue. He said he wants to restrict increases in or actually reduce state property taxes, citing new appraisals conducted every five years that usually increase property value as the reason the state government must act. Brown, responding to claims that Republican legislative action led to large increases in local property taxes to fund schools and other local services, said those increases on the city and county level are conducted by the local goverments, and generally approved by voters in elections. He said a way the state government can help with that is to increase its share of funding on the local level, which would allow the local governments to reduce their property taxes. Citing his desire to rein in spending, Brown said he has put forth a draft bill for the next legislature that will create a commission to examine where the increase in revenue that has led to budget surpluses came from, where the money was spent and if it was spent in a fair and balanced manner. “Are we getting a bang for our buck,” he said. Brown said he supports two issues dear to many on the Hi-Line the continued operation of Amtrak and Essential Air Services, which helps provide air services to small towns including Havre but doesn’t support another issue popular with many people in the area, widening U.S. Highway 2 to four lanes. He said that as he drove on Highway 2 Tuesday he didn’t see many cars, and that a wider two-lane highway with some passing and turning lanes, as is proposed to improve the highway for 10 miles east of Havre, is probably enough to improve safety. “I don’t know that four lanes is economically feasible,” he said. Brown was born in Casper, Wyo., in 1951 and his family moved to Billings in 1955. After he graduated high school, he worked in the oilfields as a roughneck until he decided to improve his lot after watching engineers on the oil rigs and went to school at Montana Tech in Butte. He received a Bachelor of Science in petroleum engineering in 1974. He worked in petroleum-related jobs until 1986, when he formed his own business, which he sold in 1994 and is now semi-retired, he said. Brown and his wife, Kim, have three children: 27-year-old Katie, Gillian, 20, and Roy Jr., 19.