Wisconsin Republicans propose $250 million income tax cut

MADISON, Wis. — Income taxes for the average person in Wisconsin would be cut by $105 under a Republican proposal that lawmakers plan to vote on next week and quickly send to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

The nearly $250 million income tax cut is the largest part of the GOP plan announced Friday. It also would reduce personal property taxes paid by businesses by nearly $45 million and cut general state debt by $100 million.

Republicans are tapping some of the state’s projected $620 million budget surplus to pay for the tax cuts.

It’s unclear whether Evers supports any of the tax cuts. Last week he proposed his plan for the projected surplus: a $250 million boost to education funding.

“This is a win-win for all of us in the state of Wisconsin,” he said at the news conference announcement.

Jason Stein, the research director at the Wisconsin Policy Forum, said the decision on which option is better for taxpayers depends on what they want to see in the state.

“Any budget, whether it’s a family’s budget or the budget of the state of Wisconsin, is really balancing a lot of priorities,” he said. “And they aren’t just priorities in the here and now, but also balancing the needs of today versus what we think the needs of tomorrow might be.”

He said putting money aside in a reserve, or rainy day, fund gives the state access to money when an emergent need arises. Historically, he said, Wisconsin has had less money in its reserve compared to other states, but it has recently gotten to a comparable level. Both Evers’ plan and the GOP plan would continue the recent trend with more money added to the fund.

With both plans offering money to pay off debt, put money in the rainy day fund and cut taxes — the Evers plan through equalization aid — some see the projected surplus as a chance to invest.

As an analyst with the Wisconsin Budget Project, a branch of Kids Forward, Tamarine Cornelius would like to see the money go to education.

“When you look back at our history of funding schools in Wisconsin,” she said, “the state is still funding public school districts at a lower level than we did a decade ago.”

Stein said it’s important to remember the surplus is projected, but the state is still only one-quarter of the way through it’s budget cycle. It’s possible an emergency could wipe it out or reduce available funds.