JUNE 17, 2019
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL AND AROUND WISCONSIN
BUDGET COMMITTEE APPROVES INCOME TAX CUT, SLASHES PROPERTY TAX
The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee last week approved a more than $400 million income tax cut for Wisconsin residents, drawing praise from some, and criticism from Democrats who sought a larger tax decrease for middle-income residents to the tune of $833 million.

In a somewhat surprising move, the committee also gave the lottery tax credit a cash influx of about $60 million toward direct property tax relief for the state's property owners.

The second-lowest income tax bracket would see the lion's share of reduction over the two year biennium, totaling $322 million. Those incomes fall between $11,450 and $22,900, and would be reduced from the current 5.84% to 4.93%. The top two brackets of income-earners in Wisconsin, whose income are between $22,900 and $252,150 (and above) and pay rates of 6.27% and 7.65% would not see any reductions in their taxes.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, over 60% of Wisconsinites would see a reduction in their taxes under this plan, with the average tax-filer seeing a $75 reduction this year, and a $136 reduction in 2020.

In the same motion, GOP members controlling the committee rejected Gov. Evers' plans to create a new income tax credit for people with dependent children, equivalent to a $90 per year reduction. Additionally, Republicans also rejected Evers' plan to allow for individuals to set up tax-reduced savings accounts for first time home buyers, totaling about $500 per savings account.
BUILDING PROJECTS, INCLUDING NEW PRISON, WIN APPROVAL FROM BUDGET COMMITTEE
Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee late last week approved a $1.9 billion spending plan for construction projects around the state. Governor Evers' plan originally called for a $2.5 billion package.

Republicans also put aside $5 million to purchase land and allow for bidding to begin on a project that would replace the Green Bay Correctional Institution, which was not at all included in Evers' original budget bill.

Additionally, lawmakers approved about $1 billion for University of Wisconsin System buildings, and set aside nearly $32 million for classroom renovations on campuses around the state. Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center in Madison will also receive $125 million for renovations and upgrades. A provision in Evers' budget that would have provided $30 million to expand the decrepit Alliant Energy Center in Madison was also axed.

In the DNR section, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program was extended through the year 2022, though plans to more-than double CAFO permitting fees in addition to a $3,270 fee every five years was rejected.

While many were happy with the construction funding, some conservatives did not see the new spending as a net positive. Most notably, Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) spoke out following the vote:

" Excessive spending and bonding is now the rage in the State Capitol as Republicans try to buy Governor Evers' support for our version of the budget. $1.9 billion for the state building program will come at the expense of taxpayers and higher fees throughout the state government in the future, especially in the UW System," Nass said. "Tonight was another win for big spending a a loss for the taxpayers. It is becoming more difficult by the day to vote in favor of the budget in two weeks. "
WHEEL TAXES MAY NEED TO WIN RE-APPROVAL
If you live in one of the municipalities or counties in Wisconsin that have imposed a wheel tax in the past few years, you may be heading to the ballot box to decide whether or not to re-approve those taxes.

Under Assembly Bill 283, local governments who want to impose a wheel tax would be required to go to referendum first. That includes those who have already implemented the funding mechanism, which has grown in popularity in recent years.

Representative Shae Sortwell of Two Rivers said good government starts with putting more power back into the hands of people.

Appleton's mayor, Tim Hanna, told a local news outlet that he has no problem with people having power, but he thinks the state government is essentially robbing the city by pushing this initiative.
EVERS RESURRECTS PARDON BOARD
The Wisconsin parole board is seemingly back from the dead, years after former Governor Scott Walker did-away with the group that is charged with considering pardons for convicted felons.

Governor Evers last week announced the re-creation of the group, having campaigned on the issue for most of his 2018 campaign.

In his executive order, Evers called for a nine-member pardon advisory board, which will be headed-up by nine other that Governor Evers' chief attorney. All other members are appointed by the Governor, and only one of those positions is nominated by the Wisconsin Attorney General.

Evers said he will not consider commutations of prison sentences, but only pardons, which restore some rights lost when convicted of a felony.

Appointed to the board are Jerry Hancock of Prison Ministry Project; Nate Holton who serves as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Milwaukee County Transit System; Judge Jeff Kremers of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court; Ryan Nilstuen who serves as Evers' chief legal counsel; Cindy O'Donnell who is worked as Deputy Secretary of DOC under Governors Thompson; McCallum, and Doyle; Nadya Perez-Reyes, who serves as Legislative Advisor for the Department of Children and Families; Myrna Warrington, director of vocational rehabilitation at the Menominee Indian Reservation, and; Noble Wray, former Chief of Police for the Madison Police Department.
MILEAGE TRACKERS ON CARS A POSSIBILITY
When Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee passed their transportation plan, it put millions of dollars into studying mileage and usage fees as a way to fund Wisconsin roads. The study spends $2.5 million to decide whether or not such a plan would be a feasible way to fund the state's roads, despite a gas tax already being in place.

But some individuals are upset that a mileage plan could come with tracking devices on automobiles that discern the distance traveled.

Conservative group Americans for Prosperity is asking the full legislature to reject the plan to fund a mileage tax in the current budget- a plan, if approved, could be enacted as early as 2023, and only needs to be approved by the Joint Finance Committee.
UPDATE: OUTAGAMIE COUNTY BOARD OVERRIDES EXECUTIVE'S VETO OF SALES TAX
Last Tuesday, the Outagamie County Board of Supervisors voted to override the veto of liberal County Executive Tom Nelson, who two weeks ago nixed a measure that would expand the sales tax in the county by 0.1%.

Nelson told reporters last week that he felt the tax would hurt the elderly and working families in the community, even though a portion of the estimated $20 million would go towards direct property tax relief for county residents...including elderly and working families. After the Board overrode his veto, Nelson told reporters that it's "crystal clear" that the public is "absolutely against" the sales tax increase.

But local law enforcement, including the Outagamie County Sheriff, welcome the new revenue.

Sheriff Kriewaldt told reporters that revenues from the sales tax are resources needed to provide to officers, and that the department cannot afford any additional cuts.
PET STORE SALES BILL TO GET PUBLIC INPUT
A bill that would ban pet stores from selling dogs and cats will get a public hearing in the Capitol this week, prompting concern from some small-sized pet stores.

The legislation, which is being pushed by the Wisconsin Humane Society, would fine pet stores $10,000 for selling dogs or cats on the first violation, and $25,000 for any subsequent violations. The legislation is supposed to reduce the demand from "puppy mills," and instead get those looking to buy a pet to focus on working with animal rescue organizations and humane societies.

One of the bill's sponsors said that most pet stores would not be impacted by the legislation, but one small business owner in Racine told reporters that the legislation would be "game-over" for his business. Petland in Racine sold about 1,300 puppies last year, and prices start at about $2,500 according to the owner, which includes a warranty, training, and other incidentals, according to a report.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
The Joint Finance Committee has passed its transportation budget. After reading the article...
Every year, WI borrows $300-400-500 million dollars for roads. Every year we don't pay for what we need because politicians refuse to raise taxes and just borrow, borrow, borrow.

I also think a thourgh review or audit to stream line and improve the department of transportaition should be done to reduce overhead.

Kind of a drastic jump in registration fees, but probably worthwhile to do it now. People said raise truck fees. Do you realize we pay more for registration AND fuel taxes in every state we travel based on mileage?

A little dissapointed that out of staters do not have to help out with this. Being close to Green Lake, its that time of the year where residents are the minority

The fees are high enough. Until we start cutting into government and bureaucracy retirement funds, I'm not for raising costs on us.

Raise the gas tax so some of the out of state drivers pay for road repair. The electric vehicles should pay a higher license fee.

Don't like it, but the roads are a mess, peanuts for the small communities as usual

middle not enough to catch up years of shortfall, no provisions for prevailing wage or accountability of funds

I understand if we invest in toll roads we loose some federal money so not look at fees base on mileage that people drive in our state

NO mileage fees, NO TOLLS. YES put registration on farm equipment that goes down the highway.

I am a strong Rebulican, but why should the people of Wisconsin be the only ones paying for road repair when all the people of the nation and world use these roads. Increase the gas tax by a nickel, but it must be used for transportation and not go into the general fundl.

Why does the state or federal government always need more revenue,can't they learn to spend wiser like the rest of us must do?

Increase gas tax

Gas tax, those who use the roads the most pay for it

We need the gas tax raised:

Those using the road the most AND / OR those causingthegreatest wear n tear should pay for that wear n tear proprtionally... Instead of granny driving 3,000 miles a year paying higher licensing & titling fees.
The Joint Finance Committee has passed its Medicaid budget. After reading the article...
One wonders how many years it will be before WI realizes the Federal money was there for the taking all along.

I support it as long as it's going to people that paid into it. One illegal that gets these benefits is too many.

Take the Federal money

Start investigating all the fraud, those who are abled body but want to sit on the butt all day, we could save tons of money

Bring our tax dollars back to the state.

Why wouldn't we expand Medicaid to be able to accept federal funds and extend insurance to 80,000 more residents? Take the federal money and improve coverage for Wisconsinites!

middle, social programs are monsters growing out of control, long term funding needs to be developed/secured

I agree that we should never except Federal dollars, its one less government entitly we have to deal with

every person should l take care of themselves,not the government government controlling everything is socialism! nment government controling t

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According to the group RENEW Wisconsin, interest in wind-generated energy is spiking in the state. Generally speaking, are you in favor of expanding wind energy in Wisconsin?
Sure, why not. If the market can make money from generating power from wind, let them do that.

I support wind engergy so long as there is no subsidising. It should be driven by economics.

Definitely wind and solar is the way to go.

Dont feel its a very efficient form of electricity, but if I had several on my property paying me well, I would be all for it!

As long as it makes fiscal sense.

Solar and wind should be used as much as they can be.

Have towers in my backyard, but do not benefit from them except for terrible TV and radio reception and an eye sore to the west of me.

Its clean energy.

NO, Takes more energy to produce these ugly structures and when they stop working our beautiful state will be littered with rusting derelicts.

Why not? We have plenty of wind - might as well harness it as a source of energy and income!

middle, power company only purchases use during peak or sells out of state, whats it going to do for me? lower my electric bill? make power company richer?

Maybe a good idea, but these wind genernors some day so did we provide cheap energy

I think any and all efforts to generate energy that are sensible and cost effective need to be used.

Lets use wind, but don't complain when birds get killed.

Is it economically feasible without government support? It needs to be before we expand it!

but it depends on where they're built. The entire township should have authority to vote.

Prefr solar.

Without government grants is it economical? No it isn't

If we would station the politicians outdoors around the state there would be alot more wind energy although the temperature would go up because of all of the hot air!
Republicans are again looking to cut income taxes by $400 million in this state budget. What do you think of this plan?
This is insanity. Cut taxes $400m while borrowing $1.5b for roads and capital projects? Yay, we don't have to pay for our stuff today!

Why not take the 400 million and put into the transportation budget and not borrow as much so my grandchildrenwon't be paying for our kick th can down the road of borrowing!!

As long as it's done proportionly.

I support any cuts to our income taxes. Our money is wasted enough.

Spend the 400 million on roads and bridges

I pay too make to the state just to have the lawmakers spend it all in the cities. We are moving to the Hunger Games times I think.

Before cutting taxes figure out how the state's bills will be paid.

middle ,everyone wants lower taxes but spending increasing how is government going to pay bills

I would use some to fix our roads

fix roads first. Cut more taxes after we have our local roads fixed.

We are taxed plenty already,it should be returned if it is not needed

Our income taxes are not hign in comparison to othr states, but our property taxes are outrageous. Finance schools with the money.

Less taxes = less government,yes

I guess that I support it,but what about massive road and bridge upgrades.

Put the 400 mill in road program and leave the registration and HUT alone

Pay DOWN Debt. ... Save for unforseen emergencies.
THIS WEEK'S MEMBER POLL
By clicking the link, you understand that it is the policy of WPT, Inc. to publish all comments that are submitted by members each week, often including broad differences of opinion within the weekly responses. Our organization values our role in fostering dialogue within our membership, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.  
LEGISLATION
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW OR VETOED
No bills to report.
BILLS IN CIRCULATION
LRB-2270   Memo  Great Lake Sand (Jacque, Andre) Sand removed from Lake Michigan or Lake Superior. Deadline: Tuesday, June 25, 3 pm

LRB-3464   Memo  Hemp History Week (Taylor, Lena) Recognizing June 3 to 9, 2019 as Hemp History Week in Wisconsin. Deadline: Friday, June 14

LRB-3443   Memo  Census Activities (Crowley, David) Creating an appropriation for census activities and preparation and making an appropriation. Deadline: Monday, June 17, 5pm

LRB-3216   Memo  Historic Landmarks (Kapenga, Chris) Limiting certain 2nd class cities' ability to designate or regulate historic landmarks. Deadline: Wednesday, June 26, 4 pm

LRB-2053   Memo  Property Tax Exemption (Marklein, Howard) Telephone company tax exemption for property used to provide broadband service. Deadline: Thursday, June 20

LRB-3484   Memo  Justice Abrahamson (Taylor, Chris) Commending and congratulating Justice Shirley Abrahamson on her retirement after 43 devoted years of service. Deadline: Thursday, June 13

LRB-2699   Memo  Home Buyer Account (Murphy, Dave) Creating tax-advantaged first-time home buyer accounts. Deadline: Thursday, June 13, 5 pm

LRB-2473   Memo  Racine Land (Wanggaard, Van) Use of formerly submerged land in the city of Racine. Deadline: Wednesday, June 19, 4 pm