By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON – The tax cuts just keep on coming.
Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday proposed $100 million tax cut for property taxpayers. Walker said he would call a fall special session, and legislative leaders indicate the bill could pass in the next couple of weeks.
“That’s $100 million worth of tax relief for working families, senior citizens, farmers and small business owners all across the state,” Walker said. “For the third consecutive year (homeowners will) see a reduction of property tax levy for the median value home across the state of Wisconsin.”
Walker said property tax cut would be reflected in this year’s tax bill, but the total tax relief would be spread over the next two years.
“The more we looked at, the more we looked at the size of the surplus, we said if we’re going to do it, let’s go big and go bold,” Walker said. “Let’s have dramatic impact on the people of the state when they’re paying their property tax bill.”
The average property taxpayer figures to save $13 this December and $20 next year compared to current law, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The $100 million in property tax relief follows a Republican-led budget that passed nearly a billion dollars in total tax relief — including a $650 million income tax cut.
The property tax cut comes out of an expected remaining general fund balance – or budget surplus – of nearly $200 million over the two-year budget.
“It would basically cut that in half,” said Dale Knapp at the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. “It would leave the state with the kinds of balances we had under most of the 2000s.”
In the most-recent budget cycle, state tax revenues came in higher than projected. Still, budget projections can prove to be a harsh mistress in volatile economic times, which is why budget watchers advocate leaving a 3 percent to 5 percent balance in the fund.
“The issue is if they have a $100 million balance on a $15 billion general fund, that’s less than 1 percent,” Knapp said. “If we have income taxes or sales taxes come in under the estimate they’ve got going forward, we could have problems.”
The problem would be turning a large budget surplus into a deficit.
Some Democrats seemed to have another take on the tax cuts.
“Middle-class taxpayers certainly deserve relief after Republicans gave their hard-earned money away to unaccountable private voucher schools, wealthy special interests and a health care plan that costs more and covers fewer people. But it’s questionable at best as to whether the plan Republicans announced today would even do that,” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D – Kenosha, said in a statement.
Walker announced the special session would also add Tax Incremental Financing districts and historic tax credits for cities.
Contact reporter Ryan Ekvall at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Nockian.