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June 18, 2009


Senate Democratic Budget Builds In More Taxes


(State Capitol)  The Wisconsin State Senate passed a state budget bill June 17 on a 17-16 vote.  All fifteen Republicans and one Democrat voted against the Senate Democratic budget proposal.  The budget included even more tax increases and $300 million more in spending on top of the $2.1 billion in tax increases passed by the State Assembly.  The differences in the Senate and Assembly Democratic budget bills will now be negotiated by a conference committee.


State Senator Sheila Harsdorf voted against the budget bill, objecting to the new taxes, earmarks, and policy measures that would, as she repeated, “raise the cost of living in and doing business in Wisconsin.”


“$2.1 billion in new taxes was bad enough, but the Senate Democratic budget built in even more taxes,” said Harsdorf.  “The Senate budget bill added $315 million more in new taxes on capital gains.  The new tax will especially hit retirees counting on investments and small businesses looking to create and retain jobs.  We should be encouraging private investment and business growth, not taxing it to death.”


Capital gains, with some exceptions, would now be fully taxed under the Senate Democratic proposal.  The bill also included an additional 24 earmarks on top of the original 91 earmarks, resulting in a $48 million bill to Wisconsin taxpayers. 


“These are challenging times.  With over a $6 billion dollar budget shortfall, pork projects should not even see the light of day,” said Harsdorf.   “Coupled with changes that will put enormous pressure on property taxpayers by restricting schools ability to control their local budgets, this budget was irresponsible with family pocketbooks.”


Harsdorf led on amendments to repeal all earmarks in the state budget bill.    Harsdorf also offered amendments to strike provisions that would limit build options for a new Stillwater Bridge and another that would eliminate all non-fiscal policy from the state budget.   All amendments failed on party lines.


Harsdorf did highlight some changes by Senate Democrats that she supported.


“Thankfully, public pressure convinced Senate Democrats to drop provisions that would have reversed tort reform, allowed illegal immigrants to obtain drivers licenses, and hindered public access to land in Wisconsin’s stewardship program,” said Harsdorf.