Wisconsin GOP leaders are pushing for ‘long-term’ tax cuts | Wisconsin

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MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers said Tuesday they want to use the state’s projected $6.6 billion budget surplus to make “transformative” and one-off tax law changes, including eliminating one of Businesses paid tax and cut income taxes for the wealthiest filers.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has opposed these ideas in the past, and Republicans don’t have the votes to override a veto.

Speaking at an event hosted by WisPolitics.com, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said they hoped to work better with Evers in his second term. Evers and GOP leaders rarely spoke during Evers’ first term. Evers recently reached out to both lawmakers, and Vos said he spoke with the governor for about five minutes.

“That was five minutes more than in the past two years,” said Vos.

LeMahieu said that working with Evers the Legislature “can get some things done.”

“If we can make some big wins, we can also cave in on some issues and find common ground,” he said.

But when it comes to tax policy, Evers and Republicans seem as far apart as ever.

Both Republican leaders said they weren’t interested in a one-time tax cut or rebate like Evers proposed during his campaign, which the GOP opposed. Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback referenced that suggestion when asked Tuesday for a response to recent comments from Vos and LeMahieu.

LeMahieu said he wants to move to a flat income tax rate, something Evers reiterated last week and opposes.

“We can make transformative tax changes in Wisconsin,” LeMahieu said. “We definitely need to lower our top prices.”

Wisconsin income tax rates start at 3.54% and go up to 7.65%. The maximum rate applies to earnings over $280,950. Under the state’s tiered income tax system, top earners also pay the lower tax rates on the first $280,949 of income and benefit from reductions to lower tax rates.

Tim Michels, who lost to Republican gubernatorial nominee Evers, spoke of moving towards a flat income tax during the campaign. More than two dozen economists banded together against the idea at the time, saying it would only benefit the state’s wealthiest residents.

LeMahieu, asked after the event about tax cuts for the highest income earners, said, “We will be making income tax cuts across the board to make sure everyone in Wisconsin gets tax cuts.”

Vos said he wants to cut taxes “as much as possible” and “it has to be long term and permanent”. This includes eliminating a type of property tax paid by corporations. Ever’s last session vetoed a bill to abolish the tax.

Senate Minority Democratic Leader Melissa Agard said a flat tax would “benefit the wealthy and well-connected,” and Democrats will oppose it. She said Democrats are open to tax cuts as part of a plan to use the surplus for a variety of priorities, including funding education, fighting pollution and repairing the state’s roads.

Both Vos and LeMahieu said they are open to increasing funding for K-12 public schools if it goes hand in hand with expanding school choice programs. Evers, a former state education secretary and public school teacher and administrator, has opposed expanding the voucher program to private schools and last week expressed doubts about fully funding public schools while expanding the elective program.

LeMahieu said things like lowering the income eligibility level to qualify for the voucher program should be part of the discussion.

Vos said he hopes Evers is willing to flex on issues that Democrats have historically rejected. Vos said he has shown a willingness to negotiate by expressing support for increasing funding for public schools. Evers has proposed increasing K-12 public funding by nearly $2 billion.

Regarding abortion, Vos said he hopes it’s another area where Evers is willing to compromise. Vos said he hopes to reach an agreement before the April 4 Wisconsin Supreme Court election so it’s not just about abortion. Democrats hope to win this race, which will determine whether liberal or conservative judges have the majority.

Evers is backing a lawsuit aimed at overturning the state’s 173-year-old law that bans nearly all abortions. He has said he will veto any bill that creates exceptions for rape and incest if it leaves the underlying ban in place. Vos has said he wants to create exceptions.