The 2014 Governor’s Races are Heating Up – With No Lack of Room for Tax Credits

State primaries wrapped up this Tuesday, September 9 in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. The three are among 36 states that will elect a governor later this fall.

As more than two-thirds of the nation prepares to head to the polls on November 4, gubernatorial hopefuls across the country are pitching economic plans that aim to invest in workers and increase support for families through programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit and property tax credits.

HatchIn Iowa, State Senator Jack Hatch, the Democratic candidate, is promoting a tax plan that would greatly increase the state’s Child Tax Credit and raise the filing threshold. Hatch is challenging incumbent governor Terry Branstad (R), who signed legislation to increase the state’s EITC while in office but has not made tax policy a strong focal point in his reelection campaign. Polling data shows that Gov. Branstad has a significant lead over Hatch.

In a three-way race in Maine, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud (D) is pushing an economic plan called “Maine Made” that would increase the state’s minimum wage and make the EITC refundable. Independent candidate Eliot Cutler has released a plan to increase property tax relief in the state that includes expanding the homestead exemption for lower-income homeowners. Cutler and Michaud are challenging incumbent governor Paul LePage (R), who enacted legislation to replace the state’s property tax circuit breaker with an alternative credit and has done little to improve the state’s EITC during his time in office. Michaud is currently polling highest out of the three.

BakerIn Massachusetts, Republican candidate Charlie Baker is calling for an increased minimum wage and doubling the state EITC. Democratic opponent and Attorney General Martha Coakley has said she’s “open” to the idea of increasing the credit. Coakley has taken a strong lead over Baker in recent polls.

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer (D) has said he’d push to restore Michigan’s EITC, Child Tax Credit and Homestead Property Tax Credit if elected. All three credits were either reduced or eliminated as part of incumbent governor Rick Snyder’s “business tax-cuts” of 2011. Snyder (R) is currently polling slightly ahead of Schauer.

In South Carolina, Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D) wants to enact a refundable state EITC. Meanwhile, incumbent governor Nikki Haley (R) is pushing for elimination of the state’s income tax entirely. Recent polling shows a close race between the two.

BurkeWhile she hasn’t released a tax plan of her own, Wisconsin gubernatorial hopeful Mary Burke (D) recently unveiled an ad campaign in which she publicly criticizes incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) for reducing the state’s EITC. Connecticut gubernatorial hopeful John McKinney (R) was also the subject of criticism after proposing to eliminate the state’s EITC temporarily if elected. McKinney ultimately lost to challenger Tom Foley (R) in the state’s primary election.

As Election Day draws closer and debates heat up, more gubernatorial candidates are likely to reveal further details of their tax policy plans. Be sure to stay tuned to our blog as we continue to track the relevant tax credit proposals among these plans.