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State sends $2.3 million in tax form check-off money to candidates

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Tax form check boxes that Minnesotans marked when filing their state returns are sending more than $2 million to political candidates this fall.

In an announcement Tuesday, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board said the state subsidies amount to $2.37 million, which will be split among 238 candidates for state offices and the Minnesota House.

To qualify for a share of that subsidy, candidates who have an opponent must agree to abide by spending limits and must meet a certain threshold for their own campaign fundraising. In addition to the taxpayers who agree to share some of their refund with candidates, the state puts a little more than $1 million in general fund money toward the subsidies.

The biggest recipients are the leading candidates for governor. Under the formula, DFL incumbent Mark Dayton receives more than $530,000. Republican challenger Jeff Johnson gets nearly $400,000.

As the Star Tribune explains, Dayton's larger total is the result of more taxpayers choosing to direct their contributions to the DFL party.

The Pioneer Press reports the spending limits they've agreed to will cap the Dayton campaign at $3.7 million and Johnson's at $4.4 million.

The Associated Press notes that the Independence Party's candidate for governor, Hannah Nicollet, failed to reach the fundraising minimum needed to qualify for a state subsidy. The money that would have gone to the IP was instead split between Johnson and Dayton, with each receiving an additional $219,000.

Candidates for the state House received subsidies in the range of $3,000 to $8,000, the Pioneer Press says. The full breakdown of who received what is included in the Campaign Finance Board's news release.

The percentage of Minnesotans who contribute part of their tax refund to candidates has fallen over the years. The Star Tribune says 40 years ago it was over 20 percent but this year it was less than 6 percent.

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