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House panel kills 3 tax bills


HELENA - The House Taxation Committee killed three tax plans today on the eve of the Legislature's deadline for new revenue bills.

A plan to ask voters if they want to replace the income tax with a sales tax, an increase on gambling machine taxes, and a tax credit for prescription drugs bought by elderly people were all tabled by the panel.

House Bills 771 and 772 would have asked voters to consider repealing the state income tax, and would have told lawmakers to replace the revenue with a sales tax if the ballot measure passed.

Opponents worried it was too speculative to ask voters to make such a decision without knowing exactly what kind of sales tax would be put in place.

House Bill 766, sponsored by Rep. Carol Juneau, D-Browning, would have increased the gaming tax from 15 percent to a high of 22 percent for casinos with more than 20 machines. It was killed 13-5.

The money raised, about $16 million to $18 million each year, would have gone toward programs in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Opponents on the committee said it was inappropriate to pay for government programs with gaming money, while others said it was wrong for government to pick on a specific group of taxpayers.


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