A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

1 November 2017 — 1832 mdt

New website kicks off campaign to pass 6-mill university levy –
and there’s already organized opposition to the levy

Updated. Montanans for Higher Education’s (MHE Facebook) campaign to pass the six-mill university levy in the 2018 general election hit the internet this week with two new websites, https://www.montanansforthesixmill.com/ and https://www.nohightaxes.com/. Both domains were registered with GoDaddy this week.

There’s already opposition: Montanans Against Higher Taxes, whose C-2 form on file with Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices lists Timothy Adams of Bozeman as its treasurer. MAHT has a Twitter page.

Montanans for Higher Education’s C-2, last updated on 20 June 2017, lists Mike Frank (Blue Cross-Blue Shield) as treasurer and Brandon DeMars as deputy treasurer. DeMars’ email address is bdemars@hilltoppublicsolutions.com. On 1 August 2017, Logicosity reported that MHE had rejected Hilltop’s $2.6 million proposal to run the pro six-mill campaign. Hilltop could have submitted a less pricy option that was accepted, or another firm could have gotten the gig.

A two-page fact sheet on the levy can be downloaded from the MEA-MFT’s website.

Revised. Although the six-mill levy was first run in 1948, the first statewide university levy in Montana, for one mill, was put to the voters in 1914, when only men could vote. It lost, receiving only 38.3 percent of the vote. Six years later, women could vote and 1.5-mill levy passed, as have all subsequent statewide university levies. For the 1920 campaign, the alumni raised $12,800, the equivalent of ≈ $160,000 today. (My thanks to Dennis Lopach for information on the 1914 election.)

PDF for printing
Download data for graph

(1) “Percent VEP for Levy” is the percentage of the voting eligible population that cast votes for the levy.
(2) Charlie Johnson’s 2008 story reports the dirty essay controversy.

Because the levy is on a 10-year cycle, every other levy election is put to the voters during a midterm election, when turnout is down. It would be better to change the cycle to eight or 12 years so that it is always put to the voters in the highest turnout election.

The legislature did not vote unanimously to put the levy on the 2018. I’ll publish who voted which way later this week.