April 23, 2014

Walker to sign $504 million tax cut plan

The governor signs his half billion dollar tax cut plan into law this morning in Cecil, near Shawano, northwest of Green Bay.

Under the so-called Blueprint for Prosperity, the state would return $504 million to Wisconsin taxpayers, by way of property tax cuts, income tax cuts, and reduced state income tax withholdings.

The tax cuts are a result of the state’s nearly $1 billion surplus. Governor Scott Walker also plans to add more than $100 million to the state’s rainy day fund.

Democrats argue the money could be better spent elsewhere or saved.

The governor first outlined his tax cut plan in his 2014 State of the State address in January. Lawmakers passed the amended plan in a special session of the legislature.

Scam warning for taxpayers

The state Department of Revenue is warning taxpayers to watch out for scammers claiming they owe money to the government.

State Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler says the Internal Revenue Service sent out an alert, after several taxpayers reported getting phone calls from individuals who claim to be with the agency. Chandler says those callers claim the person has an outstanding debt and demand immediate payment using a debit card or wire transfer. They frequently follow it up with threats that their driver’s license could be revoked or they could be arrested.

Chandler says state and federal officials would never make those types of demands over the phone and would also never ask for personal information. He says a call from anyone claiming to be with a tax collecting agency should be treated with skepticism, and taxpayers should “hang up and contact the tax agency to see whether it’s a legitimate call.”

Chandler says he’s not aware of any Wisconsin residents falling victim to the scam.

Assembly approves Walker tax cuts

WRN photo

WRN photo

The Wisconsin Assembly has passed Governor Scott Walker’s $504 million tax cut plan. Tuesday’s 61-35 vote mirrors action taken by the Senate earlier this month and sends the bill to Walker for his signature.

The package, which was modified in the Joint Finance Committee after being initially passed by the Assembly in February, includes $131 in property tax relief for a median-priced home, and an income tax cut averaging $46. It’s funded with a portion of a projected $977 million budget surplus.

Representative Jim Steineke (R-Kaukana) related the experience of a senior citizen constituent who he said struggled to pay her property taxes. “The one thing that jeopardized her ability to stay in her home was not her health, but it was her property tax,” said Steineke. “Twenty bucks a month, ten bucks a month, makes a huge difference.”

The package also includes another $100 million to be placed into the state’s general fund, and $38 million in new spending cuts to off-set a possible structural deficit to start the next state budget period.

Senate passes tax cut package

The state Senate has passed Governor Scott Walker’s $504 million dollar tax cut package. “This is a great day for taxpayers,” said Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. “It’s a great day for Wisconsin.”

The package, which was modified in the Joint Finance Committee after being passed by the state Assembly in February, includes $131 in property tax relief for a median-priced home, and an income tax cut averaging $46.

La Crosse Democrat Jennifer Schilling charged the income tax cuts favor the wealthy. “So if you are a family of four, we’ll see a tax reduction of $58. Meanwhile a select group of 30,000 individuals will get a $1500 tax break, or more,” said Schilling.

The harsh winter and its impact on streets and roads in Wisconsin were a recurring theme with Democrats, who argued that at least some of a projected state budget surplus of more than $900 million ought to be diverted to more immediate needs.

“You’ve got water mains bursting, snow removal budgets and potholes,” said Kenosha Senator Bob Wirch. “What are we giving local governments to take care of those potholes?” asked Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay. “I see cars swallowed up in potholes, and we’re not doing anything about that,” added Dane County Senator Jon Erpenbach.

Another $100 million would be placed into the state’s general fund, instead of the original idea of expanding the government’s rainy day fund, and Democrats offered an amendment that would have placed additional money in the rainy day fund. “That’s a great idea, but people tell me they want that back,” said GOP Senator Alberta Darling of River Hills. “This rainy day fund is already many times higher than the previous all-time high for the rainy day fund,” said West Bend Republican Senator Glenn Grothman.

The revised package also includes $38 million in new spending cuts to off-set a possible structural deficit to start the next state budget period. Democrats were joined by GOP Senator Dale Schultz in voting against the measure, which passed Tuesday on a 17-15 vote. Senators also unanimously approved Governor Walker’s plan for $35 million in job training grants.

 

Senate set to act on tax cuts

Wisconsin workers and property owners will soon be one step closer to getting a major tax break.

The state Senate is scheduled to meet late this morning to act on a $504 million tax cut package. Majority Republican leaders say they have enough votes in both houses to pass it. The agreement will give Republican Walker the original tax cuts he proposed in January, including a $131 property tax reduction this year for the median-priced home, plus a $46 average income tax cut.

The GOP negotiated some late changes on other parts of the package. Another $100 million would be placed into the state’s general fund, instead of the original idea of expanding the government’s rainy day fund. Also, there are $38 million in new spending cuts to off-set a possible structural deficit to start the next budget period.

Democrats still say the middle class would not get enough of the tax break, to be funded by a projected billion dollar surplus in the current state budget.

Senators are also expected to spend another $35 million of the surplus on job training grants.