A proposed bill providing $100 million in property tax relief for Wisconsin residents cleared the state Assembly Thursday, just a week after Governor Scott Walker and Republican leaders introduced the measure. Action on the legislation came only after Democrats spent several hours criticizing its limited impact on taxes and questioning the timing of its introduction.
The proposal reduces property taxes over the next two years by about $33 on a median value home. Although, because it uses the school aid formula to distribute the money, taxpayers in some parts of the state may see more or less of that cut. State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) said the bill amounts to a good headline, but Republicans shouldn’t “think for a second that it encouraged any real relief for the families that need it. Don’t think that it’s going to encourage consumer spending.”
When considering December property tax bills, state Rep. Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) pointed out that it will result in very little money for most Wisconsin residents…amounting to about a quarter a week for the owner of a median value home. “What does a quarter buy these days? I don’t even know if my kids can buy a gumball with it.”
AUDIO: Rep. Chris Danou (:15)
Several Democrats also pointed out that the introduction of the bill came just days after Democrat Mary Burke announced she was entering the race for governor in 2014. State Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Shorewood) called it “a political stunt that was rushed together so the governor could respond to the fact that he has an opponent.”
Many Republicans fired back at the charges from Democrats, arguing that the bill gives what money it can back to the taxpayers of the state, thanks to the fiscal decisions they have made over the last three years. Hudson Republican Dean Knudson said “the families and the hard-working citizens of Wisconsin don’t want us to increase spending…they want to see us control taxes.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) also accused Democrats of “posing for holy picutres” by making a lot of noise over a proposal he expected many of them to actually vote for. Vos said he hoped they would vote against it, arguing it would hugely damage their political reputations.
AUDIO: Speaker Robin Vos (:15)
The bill passed the Assembly on an 82-12 vote. It cleared the state Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the governor for his signature.