Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte seeks second term

FILE - Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the state Senate and House of Representatives, Jan. 25, 2023, at the state Capitol in Helena, Mont. Gianforte announced on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, that he would seek a second term as governor. (Thom Bridge/Independent Record via AP, File)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, whose administration oversaw a decrease in individual income taxes and an increase in residential property taxes, is seeking a second term.

Gianforte made the announcement Tuesday and said Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras will be his running mate.

With a historic budget surplus following federal stimulus spending due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state paid off its debt, reduced the top income tax rate and authorized up to $1,250 in one-time rebates to individual income tax payers under Gianforte's administration. During his first three years in office, the state has seen 40,000 more jobs — 30,000 more compared to pre-pandemic levels — and record low unemployment, according to federal labor statistics.

Property taxes went up because the appraised value of homes increased due to demand. Critics said Gianforte and the Republican Legislature did not do enough to mitigate the increase.

The legislature passed a property tax rebate of up to $675 for both 2023 and 2024 for resident homeowners — an amount that Gianforte later said would offset most people's property tax increases until the 2025 Legislature can find a solution.

“There’s still work to do, as we build on what we’ve done," Gianforte said in a statement. He said serving as governor “has been the honor of my life, and today I humbly ask for your support to serve another term.”

Ryan Busse, a former firearms executive from Kalispell who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, called Gianforte “just another typical politician who stuck Montanans with a record tax hike so that he could give tax cuts to the wealthy."

Busse and the Montana Democratic Party criticized Gianforte's support of legislation that sought to limit access to abortion. Those laws are being challenged in court.