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Daudt hopeful for more tax breaks

SLEEPY EYE — Minnesota House Republican Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said he hopeful the Minnesota Legislature will exempt state income tax from federal PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans and unemployment benefits for displaced workers this year.

“We need the legislature to take action. There’s no reason not to do it, frankly,” said Daudt.

“I think it’ll happen before the end of the session, but I think we should do it now. Why wait? When we pass a tax bill, we can make it retroactive to 2020,” Daudt said. “It will change. I’m convinced of it. If people already filed (taxes), they’ll have ot file an amendment. That’s why its a huge priority to do it right.”

“We have a large budget surplus. It tells us state government is really doing well, but Minnesotans aren’t,” added Daudt. “Raising taxes would be counterintuitive. The State doesn’t need more revenue.”

He accused Democrats of holding out on passing a tax bill because he thinks they want tax increases in other areas than unemployment.

“We find that unconscionable,” said Daudt.

Daudt said many Minnesotans are holding off filing 2020 taxes, waiting for the legislature to take action.

“Taxing federal loans that required businesses to spend the money to keep employees employed and on rent and insurance to have the loans forgiven, is really causing harm to struggling businesses,” added Daudt.

The Minnesota Management and Budget Office projected a $1.6 billion budget surplus Feb. 26 due to a higher revenue forecast, lower state spending, and an increased surplus for the current fiscal year.

The forecast added that improvements to the economic outlook have been not been spread equally as unemployment continues to disproportionately impact lower-wage workers.

Daudt visited Sleepy Eye Tuesday morning for a tour of Christensen Family Farms. He said the visit was to learn about how important the business is to the State of Minnesota.

Daudt said it’s important to be mindful of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The reality is, COVID is a serious thing and we need to keep it that way,” said Daudt. “Using political pressure to open things up is wrong. One of the worst things that can happen is when a governor puts restrictions in place and people don’t follow them.”

Daudt said he’d like to see a future study of how the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota.

“I hope when this (pandemic) is all over, we do a really good analysis of what worked and what didn’t work. I think we need to look at case studies, and learn what we did right and wrong,” said Daudt. “I think it’s pretty obvious Gov. Walz over-reacted on business closures. The stuff he did caused a lot of hard times for Minnesota business and industry. It didn’t seem to have an impact on it.”

Daudt said the data is pretty clear that kids can be in school safely and are not at a high risk of transmitting COVID.

“Numbers of (pandemic) deaths and hospitalizations are down pretty drastically,” Daudt said. “It shows vaccines work. If they weren’t safe, I think we’d know about it. I certainly think people are entitled to their opinions. I respect people’s rights not to get vaccines. We won’t mandate vaccines.”

Daudt said the latest Minnesota state budget surplus doesn’t surprise him.

“We still have less revenue than we projected before the pandemic,” said Daudt. “It’s still not back to normal, but is a lot better than what was earlier projected.”

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