MADISON, Wis. (CN) – Republicans in the Wisconsin State Assembly unveiled a legislative package Friday that would cut income taxes and taxes on businesses, while simultaneously adding to the Badger State’s rainy day fund and paying down some of its debt.
Standing in the Assembly parlor Monday morning, Representative Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, applauded the GOP-controlled Legislature’s “middle class and pro-growth reforms that are paying dividends in reducing taxes across the board in many, many areas,” something she chalked up in part to “smart budgeting over the last 10 years.”
Presented with an $800 million revenue surplus, Ballweg stated that the bicameral proposals will bring nearly $400 million in tax cuts, which includes a $250 million deduction for the middle class starting in the 2020 tax year.
Ballweg said the plan will provide the average tax filer an additional $105 deduction this year, proclaiming that the Republicans’ plan will “put money back in the pockets of our low to middle income filers.”
Representative Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, introduced a personal property tax cut for businesses totaling $45 million a year, which will ease the burden on “local businesses, small businesses and job creators” with payments for machinery, tools and other business expenses.
Dittrich stated that the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Building Commission will use $100 million of that cash to pay off the state’s general debt under another of the package’s proposals.
Representative Jon Plumer, R-Lodi, announced that part of the surplus money will be put in the state’s rainy day fund, bringing that stash to nearly $1 billion. Plumer expressed excitement that the state can afford to put that money away in case the currently cruising economy should take a downturn.
When a reporter asked if the Republicans had cleared this tax cut plan with Democratic Governor Tony Evers, Ballweg said there had been no direct discussion with the governor but that she hoped he would be supportive of their proposals.
That appeared to be wishful thinking, however. Less than an hour after the tax cut package was announced, Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback released a statement from the governor’s office blasting Republicans for ignoring Evers’ request that they earmark roughly $252 million for primary and secondary school aid.
“The governor’s education plan provides an opportunity for Assembly Republicans to deliver on their promise to get to two-thirds funding for our schools before they take an eight-month vacation while still providing $130 million to help reduce property taxes across our state,” Cudaback said.
“Unfortunately,” Cudaback continued, “Assembly Republicans made it clear today that they would rather break their promise to the people of our state than work together on funding our schools and reducing property taxes in Wisconsin.”
At a separate press conference GOP legislators held in Milwaukee Friday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, waved off Evers’ concerns, stating that “we have already made really good, strong investment in public schools” and echoed the GOP’s refrain of prioritizing returning surplus money to the taxpayers directly rather than allowing the government to spend it.
Ballweg stated Friday morning that the hope is to get the tax cut proposals through the Legislature’s joint finance committee and on the Assembly floor late next week.