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Jesse Ventura: Taxes
By Laura McCallum
August 5, 1998
Click for audio RealAudio 2.0 14.4
Part of Election '98

FORMER BROOKLYN PARK MAYOR Jesse Ventura says his tax philosophy is simple - give any state budget surplus back to taxpayers.

Ventura: My property, take for example, has jumped an average of $460 a year for the last four years in a row. All while we've had a $4 billion surplus going on at the Capitol. Why do you think I'm running for governor?
Ventura says if elected, he'd destroy the current property tax system - he says the property tax is nothing more than another income tax.
Ventura: Let's call it what it is. It's not a property tax. And let me explain why: in the 1800s, when that system was brought in, people were judged by property, their wealth, because property produced wealth. If you had a hundred acres of corn, you were worth twice as much as the guy with fifty. Today, other than rental, business, or farming - which have different classifications - nobody makes income off their home and off their property.
Ventura says he'd veto any tax increase, but unlike the other gubernatorial candidates, he doesn't have a tax cut plan - in fact, he scoffs at his opponents who do.
Ventura: My simple plan is to hold government where it's at, and that's a tax cut in itself, because inflation will lift us a couple of percent each year. So if we can simply ... I say you take a baby step before you take a big step. These people are talking about tax cuts, they don't even know where they're gonna get it from, and then they're talking about spending out the other side of their mouth.
Ventura says he'd put the brakes on spending for four years - although he doesn't offer any specific spending cuts to achieve that. He would then see if tax cuts are realistic.

Ventura often reminds people that the government doesn't make money, it simply redistributes wealth. He also likes to call Minnesota the "Land of 10,000 Taxes," and says Minnesota's "tax freedom" day - the point where the average Minnesotan finishes paying taxes for the year - is May 16. He'd like to see that day moved back to April 15.

Ventura: What is happening when almost half of our income goes to the government? I find that totally unacceptable, and why? Because government is stepping beyond what the Constitution laid out for it to do. And that is our inherent problem today, is government expanding beyond the Constitution.
Ventura's comments about taxes often veer into a discussion of government's role, which he says is to try to create a level playing field for citizens, not to guarantee jobs or wages. He says DFL gubernatorial candidates look at the office of governor as that of a CEO, and they want to leave a legacy of growth. Ventura calls himself a different kind of CEO - he says if he were governor, citizens would say they didn't even notice the government.