The state Senate has passed an economic stimulus bill – without the support of any Republicans. “We know what this is about,” said Senate Minority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, “Let's not call it a stimulus bill. Let's not call it a budget repair bill, because it does neither one of those things.”
Call it stimulus, call it budget repair, the bill failed to gain the vote of any of the chamber's 18 GOP members. The most onerous provision in the view of Republicans is combined reporting, taxing multi-state companies as one and closing the so-called “Las Vegas loophole.” Sheboygan's Joe Leibham blasted that provision. “When our economy's struggling, when businesses are making tough decisions, why would we as a state come forward and say 'we know you're going through a tough time, but please step up to the plate and pay over a billion dollars in new taxes.'” West Bend Republican, Glen Grothman, said combined reporting is a “technical, maybe boring issue,” but also one where “we are punishing the businesses of our state.”
But Kenosha Democrat Bob Wirch took Republicans to task, for forgetting who first suggested combined reporting. “Tommy G. Thompson, moderate Republican,” Wirch reminded the GOP. “Remember moderate Republicans? He brought up the idea of combined reporting. He thought it was the right thing to do.”
The combined reporting provision would raise taxes on businesses by $215 million dollars, or about ten percent, over three years. The bill also levies a new assessment on state hospitals and begins spending federal stimulus money on infrastructure. The bill passed the Senate 18-15 and is scheduled to be taken up by the Assembly today.