On Thursday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, sent a letter accepting an offer from Governor Scott Walker that would scrap a $203 million income tax cut, using that money instead of transportation bonding. Assembly Republicans would give up – for now – on seeking a new source of revenue for transportation and the governor would give up on his plan to borrow more money to fund road construction projects.
Of course, there’s another party to these negotiations, state Senate Republicans. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told the Capital Times, “There’s no deal yet, that’s for sure.”
Fitzgerald also said the desire of state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, for the committee to resume work next week is, “aggressive,” suggesting that the committee could meet the following week. Part of the delay in the budget is a potential incentive package for Foxconn and what that might entail, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The Taiwanese iPhone manufacturer may be bringing 10,000 jobs to Wisconsin.
But the other part of the delay is Senate Republicans’ desire to still cut taxes. State Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, told Fox 11 News that Senate Republicans were willing to be flexible on the size of a tax cut. However,
“The Senate caucus is absolutely not in the position of abandoning tax relief to million of Wisconsinites. That is not our position, and will not be our position,” said Roth.
And Fitzgerald told the Wisconsin State Journal that some of his caucus still wants to move towards eliminating the personal property tax. The personal property tax has been an issue of special concern to small businesses in the state who have complained about the unfairness of the tax and also the cost of compliance. The tax is imposed by local governments on business equipment, machinery and furniture.
So there’s no deal yet. Now the pressure will build on Senate Republicans to cave. But Republican legislators need to ask themselves a very important question. All of them ran on reducing Wisconsin’s tax burden. The Republican brand, even after the last election cycle, is “reduce taxes.” If the Republicans, with historic majorities, are willing to throw away tax cuts in this budget cycle to keep the size of state government growing, are they throwing away the reason voters gave them those majorities?
(Note: A minor change was made to the first paragraph for clarity. Instead of reading. “for transportation spending,” the sentence now reads, “instead of transportation bonding.”)