April 24, 2014

JFC approves governor’s property tax cut plan

Lawmakers are moving quickly on Governor Scott Walker’s proposed $100 million property tax cut.

The legislature’s budget writing committee discussed the issue briefly Tuesday morning before sending it on to the full Senate. Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, says some Wisconsinites are struggling to pay their property taxes, especially in low-income areas, and a cut of any amount is welcome.

“Some might mock this being a relatively modest reduction in property taxes, but really — as a legislature — we’re forced with a decision; a decision of spending the money on another program increasing the size of government or, in this case, giving it back to the taxpayers who pay it.” Nygren says he sides with taxpayers, “every single day” and give back their money.

Governor Walker has called a special session of the legislature in order to move quickly on his plan that would reduce property taxes by about 13 bucks for the average home owner in December and $20 the following year.

Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), a member of the budget committee, says the tax cut needs to be put into perspective.

“I am pleased that we are doing this, but also let’s not be so quick to pat ourselves on the back so strongly — thirty-three dollars for property tax payers.” She says it won’t even fill her gas tank for her drive home to her district. “That’s gonna be half a tank of gas for me to get back to La Crosse.”

Shilling and believes the money would be better spent on the infrastructure, education and other reforms. She says the reduction is “symbolic.”

The tax cut would be paid for out of money from a state budget surplus. The state ended its fiscal year with a surplus of just over $759 million, nearly $90 million more than what state officials had estimated.

The Senate is expected to take up the issue this afternoon (Tuesday).