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The Bismark Tribune - Mathern Unveils $1 Billion Tax Cut Plan

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The Bismark Tribune - Mathern Unveils $1 Billion Tax Cut Plan

Brian Duggan

Democratic-NPL gubernatorial candidate Tim Mathern unveiled a $1 billion tax cut plan on Monday, which his opponent's campaign labeled as unsustainable and anti-tax advocates hailed.

Mathern said his plan, which would cut income taxes and expand the Homestead Tax Credit program, would target middle class families who are "struggling to make ends meet."

"This is not a tax plan just to get into the headlines," Mathern said at a press conference in Bismarck. "It's a tax plan and package that middle class families will really notice at the grocery store and gas pump and at tax time."

The $1 billion cut is about the size of the state budget surplus of about $1.2 billion, which Mathern said needs to be given back to the taxpayers.

Mathern's plan would cut income taxes by 75 percent for those earning under $78,850 and 50 percent for those earning more than $78,850 to $164,550.

It also would extend the Homestead Tax Credit to every North Dakota homeowner. The current program covers only elderly and disabled homeowners.

The plan also would direct $300 million to school districts and another $150 million for things like road improvements by increasing the share cities and counties get from the sales tax.

Mathern added that Gov. John Hoeven's tax plan, which would cut $500 million, does not go far enough, calling it an extension of President Bush's tax policy.

Don Larson, the campaign manager for Hoeven, said the Democrat's tax plan promises too much and would not be sustainable.

"He's already spent the surplus multiple times," Larson said, noting a $1.5 billion oil refinery Mathern wants to build. "I'm wondering where sustainability is in his calculations."

Dustin Gawrylow, spokesman for of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity, said his "jaw almost hit the floor" when he heard about Mathern's tax plan.

"We're glad the debate is now how big the tax plan needs to be and not whether we need one," Gawrylow said.

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