State Assembly Passes Middle Class Income Tax Cut That Evers Opposes

Feb 12, 2019

New Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promised on the campaign trail to provide a middle class tax cut. Republicans who control the legislature have the same goal, but getting there may be an ordeal.

The state Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that would tap a budget surplus to pay for a $340 million annual tax cut for single and joint filers. The measure goes to the state Senate on Wednesday, but if the GOP proposal is approved Evers might reject it, as he has a different approach in mind.

While both parties want to provide a middle class tax cut, they disagree on how to pay for it. Gov. Evers, a Democrat, wants to virtually eliminate tax credits for manufacturers, while Republicans in the Legislature want to use a state surplus. Tuesday’s debate over the GOP proposal saw heated exchanges. Republican state Rep. James Edming voted in favor of the plan to use a surplus. He says farmers would struggle under the Democratic plan.

“Our farmers absolutely are barely just squeaking by and I can’t honestly look them squarely in the eye and tell them I did everything I can do, so you can pay more in taxes,” says Edming.

Edming says it doesn’t make sense to increase taxes in one area to provide a tax cut in another. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s willing to work with Evers on a compromise, but under certain conditions.

“We are never going to support an increase in the income or sales tax. We are never going to support an increase on any job creator in the state,” Vos says.

Wisconsin’s economy has been growing according to Vos, and there would be plenty of money left in the state's surplus fund if $340 million is used for the middle class tax cut. Still, Democrats were opposed to the idea. State Rep. Tod Ohnstad of Kenosha urged members not to squander surplus money. He says he fears another slowdown is coming.

“We all know that the economy moves in cycles and apparently we all want a middle class tax cut. Let’s go ahead and pass one that’s sustainable, and doesn’t leave us wanting when, not if, we find ourselves in another economic downturn,” Ohnstsad says.

Another Democrat, Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee, accused Republicans of playing politics. She says the GOP plan is a slap in the face to voters who elected the new governor.

“They elected a man named Tony Evers. You have spent since Inauguration Day, every waking moment trying to figure out how to undermine the new governor,” says Sinicki.

While Evers opposes the bill passed Tuesday, he stopped short of promising to veto the measure. He says he remains hopeful that a compromise can be reached, but believes his plan is the best.