Feb 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Governors push for inflation solutions

Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin is seen at a campaign rally in 2018.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

U.S. governors from both parties are releasing a flurry of proposals as the political potency of inflation hits.

Why it matters: The lousy numbers — a U.S. inflation rate at its highest in four decades and prices up more than 7% over the past year — are coming not just at the start of a pivotal midterm election year but also at the start of the annual sessions for many state legislatures around the country.

Between the lines: With insufficient support to move President Biden's agenda through the Senate, voters are looking to governors and their states to lead.

Driving the news: Wisconsin's Gov. Tony Evers announced in his "State of the State" address this week that he'll extend the University of Wisconsin's tuition freeze for another year. The Democratic governor also renewed calls to funnel the state's budget surplus back to taxpayers, giving every Wisconsin resident a $150 tax rebate.

  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills, also a Democrat, unveiled a plan to give residents a one-time $500 check "to help them deal with pandemic-driven inflation." Her supplemental budget also includes various tax relief measures, as well as funding for two years of free community college.
  • Mills said in a statement that she's been "drawing on good ideas from both Republicans and Democrats to tackle some of Maine’s most pressing issues, like inflation and our longstanding workforce shortage."

Democratic governors are eyeing relief for property and car owners, workers and patients with ongoing health care costs.

  • In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to give Michigan car-owners a $400 check per car that they own.
  • In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly hopes to save families $500 a year by eliminating the state's grocery tax.
  • In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz in Minnesota wants residents to receive a check of up to $350 from the state surplus.
  • In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont introduced a new tax cut plan that aims to give more than $330 million in relief to residents.
  • In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proposed freezing the state's gas tax and ending its grocery tax — although some studies question the tangible impact residents would actually feel from his measures.

Republican governors are eyeing broad plans to lower taxes.

  • In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has made moves to lower the state income tax, with the aim of saving families $13,000 per year. Her colleagues in Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina also have proposed income tax relief plans to combat inflation.
  • In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little signed into law earlier this month a $600 million tax cut plan — the state's largest ever.
  • In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp proposed last month giving residents $250 to $500 tax credits from the state's budgetary surplus.
  • In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is pursuing a broad economic agenda, including giving Virginians a one-time tax refund of $300 to $600.
  • In Utah, Gov. Spencer Cox's budget proposal includes $160 million in tax cuts. “Right now, we are seeing rising inflationary pressures, and we believe that a grocery tax credit would do the most for the people who need it the most,” he said in December.
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