MEMO: Rick Hill Supports a Montana Sales Tax

On the heels of Steve Bullock’s announcement of a Job-Creating Homeowner Tax Rebate, please find below your requested information regarding Congressman Hill supporting a sales tax.

In summary, Rick Hill – the former congressman and current gubernatorial candidate – led the charge for a 4 percent, $400 million sales tax in Montana as the head lobbyist for Governor Racicot in 1993. Hill most recently professed his sales tax support last year in stating: “I have often been an advocate for a sales tax as a substitute tax” (1).

Hill’s sales tax is regressive.  It would have hurt middle-class folks in Montana as they go to buy groceries, trucks, guns, and homes.  Further Hill’s sales tax would have significantly shifted the tax burden.  Corporations would have seen significant tax reductions through the reduction of property tax mill levies.  All of the new sales tax revenue would have been paid by individual tax payers through the sales tax. 

Background on Hill leading the charge for sales tax as lobbyist (1993)

During the 1993 session, Rick Hill was the primary lobbyist for the Governor’s Office.  In this role, one of his responsibilities was to lobby for the sales tax (SB325) – which was introduced by Sen. Bruce Crippen (R - Billings).

If implemented, the measure would have instituted a 4 percent, $400 million broadly based sales tax on goods and most services (2). As introduced, the sales tax was even applied to real estate sales and utility bills paid by homeowners. 

Furthermore, Hill’s bill didn’t even try to cut spending – in fact the budget Hill lobbied for added new state employees to the budget. During this time, Hill, on behalf of Racicot said: “the governor is anxious to reach consensus and move whatever bill results forward” (3).

Hill’s sales tax measure was placed on a June 1993 special election ballot, where it was defeated by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. Over 161,000 Montanans, or 74 percent of voters, opposed the measure – losing in all 56 counties (4).

In June 2011, at a “Hometown Helena” appearance, Hill re-asserted his support for a sales tax in Montana stating: “I have often been an advocate for a sales tax as a substitute tax” (5).

Hill has proven throughout his political career that he’ll say anything to get elected. But, the fact remains that he has a track record of leading the charge for a sales tax in Montana.


1. PBS. “Hometown Helena.” June 2, 2011. Hyperlink:

2. AP. “Furor Over Sales Tax Abates, Bill Remains in Limbo.” April 15, 1993. Hyperlink:

3. Char-Koosta News. February 19, 1993. Hyperlink: N/A

4. Associated Press. “Sales Tax Trounced.“ June 8, 1993. Hyperlink:

5. PBS. “Hometown Helena.” June 2, 2011. Hyperlink:

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