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Latest Wisconsin Republican tax cut plan likely to run into roadblock: Gov. Tony Evers

The State Assembly Ways and Means Committee discusses the GOP tax plan during a meeting Wednesday at the State Capitol in Madison.
Wisconsin Eye
The State Assembly Ways and Means Committee discusses the GOP tax plan during a meeting Wednesday at the State Capitol in Madison.

Another Republican tax cut plan is moving ahead in the Wisconsin Legislature. But Gov. Tony Evers (D) says it won't become law.

GOP leaders unveiled the proposed tax cut last week. It would lower the state’s third income tax bracket from 5.3% to 4.4%. That would help single filers making between about $28,000 and $300,000 per year and joint filers making between about $37,000 and $405,000.

Evers vetoed a similar rate reduction two months ago. 

Republicans also want to exclude the first $150,000 of a couple’s retirement income from state taxes. That would apply to people over age 67.

Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) voted against the new GOP plan Wednesday when the fast-tracked proposal went before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. Riemer cited a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo saying the tax cut would mean more than $2 billion less revenue for the state over the next two years.

"I do come back to this 2.2 and change billion dollar general fund deficit. That makes my heart stop, because I don't know how to solve it except by preventing it in the first place," Riemer told the committee.

But Commitee Chairperson, Rep. John Macco (R-Ledgeview) said tax rates are too high.

"We have a problem. Our highest tax bracket is the ninth highest in the country right now. Our third bracket is the 22nd highest in the country. So we have to do something. Literally, 100% of this money is going to folks who need it the most," Macco said.

But Evers posted on social media Wednesday that he would veto the GOP tax package. He repeated that veto promise during a visit to Wauwatosa.

"It just doesn't make sense. I understand people are interested in a tax cut. But when you look at the entire picture, $2.5 billion will leave the state of Wisconsin. I just can't stomach that," Evers said.

The Associated Press reported last week that Evers’ budget director contends that cutting taxes more than $432 million over the next two years could jeopardize about $2.5 billion in federal pandemic relief money the state has received. 

Republicans dismiss that concern. But the matter could wind up in court if Evers vetoes the tax proposal, and the GOP rounds up enough Assembly Democrats to override the Governor.

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