Scott Jensen proposes tax cuts and phase-out of personal income tax

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen on Thursday called for tax cuts and a crackdown on government spending and regulations to help Minnesotans cope with the highest rate of inflation in 40 years .

Inflation already dominates election campaigns nationwide. Republicans see it as a powerful issue to try to bolster their ranks in the Minnesota Capitol and other state houses across the country, as well as in Congress.

“We need to put more money in the wallets and checkbooks of everyday Minnesotans now,” Jensen said at a news conference.

A day earlier, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz renewed his call for lawmakers to approve one-time tax refund checks of $1,000 for single filers and $2,000 for couples to return a portion of the state’s remaining $7 billion budget surplus to taxpayers to help them deal with high gas and other tariffs.

That earned Walz a shoutout Wednesday from President Joe Biden, who called on other state and local governments to take similar action as he proposed a federal gasoline tax exemption. But Republican legislative leaders once again dismissed the refund proposal as an election-year gimmick and stuck to their calls for permanent tax cuts. The chances of a special session approving any changes remain low.

Jensen called the governor’s plan “flattering” because he would send checks to all Minnesotans, whether or not they pay taxes contributing to the surplus. He called for an eventual phase-out of the state’s personal income tax. He also supported a GOP push to eliminate state income taxes on Social Security benefits, which are already exempt for many low- and middle-income Minnesotans.

Although his plan lacked details on how he would get there, Jensen said his goal was to bring in around $4,000 to $5,000 for each family of four, and that his plan could include some kind of upfront payment. unique along with permanent cuts.

Democrats slammed Jensen for his lack of detail, saying his proposal to eliminate personal income taxes would cost the state $30 billion in annual revenue that funds education, health care and education. other programs.

“Scott Jensen’s tax plan will decimate our schools and gut the public programs our families rely on for access to affordable health care and so much more,” said Marissa Luna, executive director of the Democratic-aligned Alliance. for a Better Minnesota, in a statement. . “We need a leader who works for all of us, not just the rich and big business.”

Jensen, a family physician and former state senator from Chaska, went beyond vaccine skepticism and opposition to Walz’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that helped him to gain GOP approval, and has spoken on public safety and the economy lately. weeks.

He had previously proposed waiving the state’s 28.6 cents per gallon gasoline tax. Walz didn’t rule out a gas tax exemption, but the idea didn’t catch on until the Legislature adjourned its regular session last month, and the governor called his proposal more effective alternative reimbursement.

Governors can’t do much to reduce inflation, which is a problem in the national economy, but Jensen said the state can help cut people’s costs. He didn’t have many details on how to fill the big hole that eliminating the personal income tax would blow in the state budget. But he said he wanted to start this conversation.

“If we can’t have this conversation, we’re never going to solve the problem with big, bold ideas,” Jensen said.

Creating a “sizzling economy” could help, Jensen said, while “significantly reducing” state spending. Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse could make a ‘huge dent’, he added, citing cost overruns with the ailing Southwest Light Rail project and driver’s license system as examples. of the state, as well as the fraud that has come to light in child care and food bank programs.

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