State budget passes Assembly, heads to Senate
Updated: 10:44 p.m. on June 29, 2021
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Assembly is poised to send an $88 billion budget across the rotunda to the Senate. Tuesday night, June 29, the Assembly passed the budget 64-34.
Published: 11:50 a.m. on June 29, 2021
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin lawmakers are expected to pass the next two-year budget this week crafted by Republicans that includes tax cuts, and far less state funding for schools that what Gov. Tony Evers wanted.
On Tuesday, the Assembly is schedule to vote on the nearly $88 billion proposal and then it will head to the Senate on Wednesday.
Then, the next two-year spending bill will land on Gov. Evers desk where he can either sign it, veto the entire thing or make changes with his line-item veto powers. In 2019, Evers ignored calls from Democrats to veto the entire state budget, but he did make 78 partial vetoes calling the GOP proposal a "down payment" towards progress.
One major aspect of the 2022-2024 state budget includes Republican's tax cut plan which would reduce income, property and other taxes paid by businesses.
A majority of income tax breaks would be for those earning $100,000 or more a year, according to a memo by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. That was made possible by lowering the tax bracket from 6.27% to 5.3% for those making anywhere from $24,000 - $263,000.
Property taxes would also be reduced by $650 million under the GOP plan, resulting in a about $100 in savings for a typical homeowner. According to the fiscal bureau, property taxes when then rise by about $30 by next year.
In a separate piece of legislation, Republicans want to eliminate the tax which businesses pay on equipment and other furnishings by setting aside $202 million in the state budget to pay for it.
More than 40 groups and organizations support the bill, but it remains unknown if Gov. Evers would sign it as it's expected to pass both chambers this week.
Over the last few years, lawmakers have offered exemptions for businesses paying property taxes, and now that Wisconsin is expected to receive a record surplus over the next few years, Republicans want to give some of that back to taxpayers.
Some Democrats who voted against the tax cut in legislative budget committee worry the funding set aside by Republicans to replace the loss in property tax revenue wouldn't be returned to local governments.
Republicans proposed $128 million for K-12 schools over the biennium, less than 10% of what Evers wanted. The governor proposed allocating over $1.6 billion to districts, which Republicans called unnecessary and defended their decision by refencing the billions K-12 schools will received in federal coronavirus relief aid.
The GOP budget will meet federal guidelines to secure more $2.3 billion in stimulus aid for districts by cutting local property taxes levied by schools and technical colleges and replacing that will state funding.
The decision to rely on federal relief aid and keep state funding flat upset dozens of school leaders who protested Republicans education budget.
While Republicans invested $128 million for K-12 schools, their plan places revenue caps on how much schools can spend. This prevents schools from spending more state money than years past because it limits their ability to benefit from property tax revenue.
ELIMINATING UW SYSTEMS TUTION FREEZE
College bound students who live in Wisconsin would no longer benefit from a two-year tuition freeze offered at UW campuses.
Republicans are seeking to lift the tuition freeze in the next state budget which has been in place for eight years.
The measure would not put a limit on how much tuition could go up. Governor Tony Evers proposed in his budget keeping the freeze in place for two years.
EVERS PRIORITIES REMOVED FROM STATE BUDGET
Nearly 400 policy items in Gov. Evers budget proposal including expanding BadgerCare and legalizing marijuana were removed by Republican lawmakers who control the Joint Finance Committee.
Other proposals eliminated included police reform, raising the minimum wage, implementing red flag laws to allow a judge to remove guns from those may be a treat to themselves or others, and restoring collective bargaining rights for state employers.