OK, so I’m never going to be a fan of Rick Santorum. He is a bigot, he pushes against women’s rights, and his “google problem” that he likes to complain about was started because of vile things he said about gay people. I find it astounding that he is still in the race; not that it matters to me since I’m not going to be voting in the Republican primary. But still.

Incredibly, he’s managed to find an additional way to piss me off.

This is Rick Santorums Tour Bus with a Montana license plate
This is Rick Santorum’s Tour Bus with a Montana license plate

This is his campaign tour bus. With a Montana RV license plate, similar to the one I have on my own travel trailer parked out in the driveway. The difference is, I actually live in Montana. Unlike Mr. Santorum.

Here is a link to the story last night on KPAX: MT plates spotted on presidential candidate’s bus | KPAX.com | Missoula, Montana

Here’s the deal. Registering an RV in this state is cheap. It is a one-time fee for a permanent plate…no yearly renewals. It cost me $180 to register my trailer when we bought it in 2010 and that was that. It is, absolutely, a great deal.

But it should only be a great deal for people who live in this state and support the state in other ways.

As noted in the KPAX story, it is possible for non-residents to get these plates by establishing a Montana Limited Liability Company (LLC). This then acts as a resident under state law and can be used to register the motor home. It is perfectly legal, but the whole concept feels a little…corrupt…to me.

Why it Annoys Me

We don’t have a sales tax here, and our motorhome registration fees may be low, but we do certainly have a state income tax. Back when I first moved here, it did seem as though the MT income tax was a bit more than what I paid back in Illinois, so it seems we probably are in line with most other states in that respect. I of course pay property taxes on my home. And the vehicle registration fees for normal trucks and autos are renewed every year, and are significantly more that what I paid back in Illinois (back in 2005, I paid about $70-$80 a year in Illinois. Here, it is based on the value of the vehicle, so for a few years there I was shelling out around $300 a year for my 2004 Honda Civic).

So I am contributing considerable money to this state to keep it running. In addition, I live here. I spend my salary here, on goods and services right here in Montana, thus presumably helping to keep local businesses in business and keep Montanans employed.

In other words, yes, I get a really nice break on registering my RV for dirt cheap. But I pay for it in other ways.

These people who work around residency laws with their LLCs are not contributing to our state’s economy in the same way. Yes the registration fee tosses a little money at the state government, but they do nothing else to support the state that is giving them this great deal on their motorhome license plates.

Furthermore, they are cheating their own state out of taxes they should be paying there.

I find it annoying when normal people do this. They should be lobbying their own states to change their registration fees rather than using a different state. But normal people often don’t have much power to change their governments, so I have a small amount of sympathy.

I have zero sympathy for a politician who actually holds political power and influence.

Note to Mr. Santorum: If you don’t like the fees charged by the state of Pennsylvania, perhaps you should work with the elected officials there to change those fees. And put Pennsylvania plates on your damn tour bus.

(Minor caveat: I suppose it is entirely possible that the tour bus was rented from a Montana-based company rather than owned by Santorum. In which case, consider my rant against Santorum null and void…although I stand by my irritation with the LLC practice in general. And I’ll still never like the man.)