House Republicans Tout Tax Cuts in Fundraising Campaign

legislative session, dayton
House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka speak with press after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton (Preya Samsundar/Alpha News MN)

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) in Minnesota is touting a series of tax cuts in a new fundraising campaign as part of an effort to solicit donations.

The letter, signed by Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown), lays claim to cuts across a number of tax categories. This includes income taxes, property taxes, and “reduced tax burdens for farmers, small businesses and seniors.”

While Daudt’s descriptions might technically be true, those tax breaks likely do not come in the way most people would think of them at first mention.

“It’s a complete lie, but this is the way that political spin works,” Action 4 Liberty President Jake Duesenberg said. “They did a social security reduction, so maybe the spin is ‘we went after the income tax that people on social security taxes pay,’ but that’s not what you’re led to believe.”

Aside from reductions in taxes on social security income, another change Daudt could claim as an income tax cut is the state’s change to comply with federal definitions of adjusted gross income. This is retroactive for the 2015 and 2016 tax years, and will result in additional refunds for some taxpayers. The exception limit on estate taxes was also raised this session.

“I’m obviously in support of any kind of way to reduce taxes,” Duesenberg said. “But these are refundable tax credits which I’m not in favor of. That’s people who don’t pay in getting money back. That’s redistribution of wealth.”

Given that the surplus for the biennium for the now current state budget reached $1.65 billion, Daudt’s claims ring a little hollow with conservative activists.

“We can’t let the liberals expand their power,” the HRCC letter reads. “Going down that road means higher taxes, bigger government, slower economic growth and an education system run for the benefit of the unions, not the students.”

The total budget passed by the Republican majority legislature ended up with a total price tag of $46 billion across the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. For the previous biennium the budget totaled $41.8 billion. This amounted to an approximate increase of 10 percent.

“It’s the interesting the way the state budget works as opposed to the federal budget. There’s no printing press. They can’t go to the federal reserve to ask them to buy up their bonds. They’re constrained by how much money they bring in,” Duesenberg said. “It’s appropriate in my opinion to tackle the income side first.”

Duesenberg believes that legislators should take steps to reduce the amount of money the state brings in, and therefore force a reduction in government spending.

Daudt did not respond to Alpha News’ prior requests for comment.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article detailing the fundraising message of the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) incorrectly stated the previous biennium budget to be $38.2 billion, with an overall increase of more than 20 percent. This version of the article has been corrected. The previous biennium budget was updated in the February forecast to $41.8 billion, which is approximately 10 percent. 

Anders Koskinen