Minnesota Senate GOP eyes tax cuts

ST. PAUL (AP) — Republicans who control the state Senate unveiled a bill Wednesday that they said will cut taxes for half of all Minnesota taxpayers while having no net impact on the budget, in keeping with their firm opposition to higher taxes.

They staked out a position far apart from Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and the Democratic majority in the House, who want to raise gasoline and other taxes and preserve an expiring tax on health care providers. While contentious negotiations lie ahead, both sides and the governor continue to express optimism that they can pass a balanced budget by the May 20 adjournment deadline.

“Certainly we’re far apart, but it’s my job to make the case that the resources we have is what we need to live within,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka told reporters. “We’re already a high tax state … and so I’ll make the case that we have enough resources if we just use them wisely.”

Senate Taxes Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain called the Democrats’ tax proposals “destructive,” saying they would throw a “wet blanket” on the economy that would drive away jobs.

The GOP bill includes a quarter-point income tax cut for middle-class taxpayers — those who earn between $38,771 and $154,020 for married joint filers or between $26,521 and $87,110 for single filers. It would reduce the rate in their bracket from the current 7.05% to 6.8% for 2019. It would also let taxpayers shelter more Social Security income, and expand the ability of businesses and farmers to deduct equipment purchases.