Penny would tap gas, tobacco taxes to solve deficit

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 4, 2002

As polls so far have indicated, the Independence party candidate for governor, Tim Penny, is making a strong statement for his party’s staying power, and a strong run for the position.

Penny spoke with outstate reporters on the state budget by phone on Wednesday.

&uot;My basic message is that fiscal responsibility prepares people to make tough decisions,&uot; said Penny.

Email newsletter signup

Penny set down rules for how he’d deal with the budget. &uot;We can’t let people create the budget in a back room,&uot; he said. &uot;When the campaign dust settles I think it is important to have an open conversation.&uot;

Penny criticized his opponents for partisan ideas getting in the way of finding a balanced budget. &uot;The state budget needs to be on the foreground of this campaign,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s no surprise that my opponents aren’t putting it out there because they created this mess.&uot;

Focusing on ways in which he’d like to create revenue, Penny said he’s looking into a five-cent gas tax increase, a cigarette tax increase and maybe raising the sales tax.

Penny said he’d like to look into saving money by &uot;cuts with bureaucracy.&uot; He said he’d like to merge certain government organizations, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, among others.

Penny also said he would like to review some aid formulas that are in place right now. With local government aid (LGA), which makes almost 40 percent of the Albert Lea city budget, Penny said he’d like to meet with local officials from around the state. &uot;We need to look at results-oriented government,&uot; he said.

Penny had no specific thoughts about his overall approach to LGA.

As for local-option sales taxes, which was applied for by an Albert Lea group, Penny was a bit vague as well. He said, &uot;I’m willing to consider that, but I’d like first to visit with local government officials to make a broader decision.&uot;

Penny faces democrat Roger Moe, Republican Tim Pawlenty, and Green Party candidate Ken Pentel in this November’s general election.