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Jensen calls for tax cuts to help Minnesota deal with inflation

ST. PAUL, Minnesota — 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 prices.

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 “proximity” because he would send checks to everyone in Minnesota, whether or not they paid 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.

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’ll never 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.

“I think the only way to come up with innovative and effective solutions is to throw everything on the table,” said Jensen’s running mate, former Minnesota Viking Matt Birk. And he joked, “Scott and I, we both have a lot of great ideas that stink.”

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