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Bloomberg BNA recently posed a series of tax-centric questions to the Republican and Democrat candidates for governor in North Dakota. Below are the responses from Democrat candidate Marvin Nelson.
Interview by Mark Wolski
Marvin Nelson has served in the North Dakota House since 2011. A crop consultant and consignment shop operator, he lives in Rolla with his wife, Sue. They have two grown children. He has a degree in entomology from North Dakota State University.
What are your priorities related to state and local tax, if elected?
Keeping from pushing state responsibilities for funding down to the local level and onto property taxes.
What existing state and local tax measures or initiatives would you seek to support? Or curb?
We really don’t have any existing measure at this time, except for the measure being voted on by the people (Initiated Statutory Measure No. 4, which would increase the state’s cigarette tax from 44 cents to $2.20 per pack to provide funding for veterans’ programs, the state general fund and community health programs). Whatever they decide, I will implement. I don’t know of any big tax proposals coming in the next legislative session.
What is the biggest hurdle you foresee to enacting your major tax-related initiatives?
No tax or fee increase pledges to out of state interests. This results in pushing funding requirements onto property taxes. This also creates the unfunded mandate problem. Legislators will support the program, but not provide the funding because they took a pledge.
What is the biggest challenge you see facing North Dakota from a tax and revenue perspective, in light of current and evolving market conditions?
Market conditions. We are still primarily a commodity-based economy. With both agricultural commodities and oil being down in price, that puts a real bind on our budget and ability to provide continuation of services. Our general fund and oil funds revenue is down about $5 billion from a peak of $12 billion. That is going to result in some painful adjustments.
Do you believe North Dakota has the right balance right now in terms of overall taxes? Does anything need to be re-balanced?
The trend has been toward imbalance. Income tax is low relative to other taxes.
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