A bill to cut property taxes across the state has advanced through the State Senate.
Senators voted 28-5 Tuesday night for a $100 million tax cut provided to local communities through school equalization aid. The Joint Finance Committee agreed to the bill unanimously Tuesday morning in a public hearing.
"As a legislature, we're forced with a decision of spending the money on another program, increasing the size of the government, or in this case, giving back to taxpayers who pay it. I'm going to side on the side of taxpayers every single day and give it back to them," said Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.
The bill would reduce the property tax bill on the median priced $148,000 home in the state $33 over two years. Democrats said that lawmakers should acknowledge the minimal impact of the bill.
"A little perspective [that this is] $33 for property tax owners," said Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse. "For me, when I head home this week I have to stop and get gas and fill up the minivan. That's going to be half a tank of gas for me to get back to La Crosse, so put it in perspective a little bit."
The debate in the Senate included a few amendments. A small group of Democrats also suggested moving the $100 million provided from the tax cut into the state's rainy-day fund,calling the tax cut "pandering" by the governor.
"We have a responsibility as a legislature to rein these fellows in," said Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville. "They will do almost anything with tax money to try and get elected."
But Republicans said despite the small amount, the tax cut is part of a trend of tax relief.
"I love this bill and you can say it's about gubernatorial politics, but I'm proud to go back to the thirteenth district," said Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.
The bill will now move to the Assembly where it is scheduled to be debated in session on Thursday.
Gov. Scott Walker said he would like to see the bill to his desk by the end of the week.
Meanwhile the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released figures Tuesday showing the impact of the tax cut plan on local districts. Middleton-Cross Plains School district would see more than a six percent aid increase under the plan, which is one of the largest increases in the state. District officials said preliminary estimates show that would amount to about a $30 cut next year on the average $300,000 home.
Madison would get a 4.6 percent aid increase, which would decrease taxes on the average home by $25 over the current budget.
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