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Republican leader calls for top-tier tax cut

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 HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- A Republican legislative leader says that an income tax
 cut needs to be part of negotiations on the state budget.
   Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich told the tax committee on Wednesday that his
proposal would cut the state's top tax rate from 6.9 percent to 5.9 percent.
   It would cost state coffers about $120 million a year.
   Wittich says the benefit would be widespread since most Montana tax filers pay
the state's top tax rate on taxable income over $10,800.
   Opponents argue the benefit would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest
earners and could harm the state's ongoing ability to pay for needed infrastructure,
like schools.
   Gov. Steve Bullock has proposed a $400-per-homeowner tax rebate as part of his
 budget that also cuts the business equipment tax.
   AP-WF-01-30-13 1731GMT

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