Assembly Takes on Homelessness, Tax Cuts and the Miller Park Tax

It was a busy week with the Assembly on the floor Tuesday and Thursday taking up a series of legislation that addresses homelessness, provides an income tax reduction and ends the Miller Park tax.

Tuesday, included passage of Assembly Bill 122, legislation that I authored to continue to the effort to end homelessness in Wisconsin. This bill requires local workforce development boards to include an advocate from a local homeless response system and to include homeless job seekers in their workforce development plans. We learned last session, that employment is one of the most crucial elements to ending homelessness. This bill is an important tool to that end.

On Thursday, the Assembly approved unanimously legislation that I authored that will provide a tax cut for middle class families and ensure that online retailers are following the same set of rules as retailers with a physical presence in Wisconsin.

The legislation stems from the United States Supreme Court Decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair. The bill updates current law by defining marketplace providers or third party intermediaries, such as Amazon and eBay for example, that allow small online businesses to use their platform to sell products, and permits marketplace providers to collect sales tax on behalf of the businesses. Many retailers such as Amazon began collecting sales tax shortly after the Supreme Court decision.

The change in law is expected to generate $67 million in 2019 and 2020. The revenue will be used to reduce income tax rates resulting in nearly $140 million in tax relief for hardworking families across the state.

I’m proud to have authored this legislation to help families in our community and I look forward to it becoming law in the near future.

In addition to a tax cut, the Assembly voted to eliminate the onerous Miller Park tax. The legislation states the Miller Park tax will no longer be collected after December 31, 2019. 

The Miller Park tax lasted far longer than it should have and I’m hopeful the governor will approve this legislation when it reaches his desk in the coming months.

All three of these proposals now head to the Senate for consideration. 


Joint Finance Finishes Two-Year Budget Plan

The Joint Finance Committee finished its work on the budget last week passing the completed bill on Thursday. The final day focused on taxes including an income tax cut of $150 million per year for $300 million total over the biennium.

Here are some of the highlights of the budget as amended by Joint Finance:

  • Double the state’s rainy day fund by depositing $321 million, bringing the total to more than $600 million.
  • $1.6 billion in total funding to increase access to healthcare and reduce costs. The funding includes $30 million more for nursing homes, $37 million increase for personal care workers, and an additional $27 million for direct caregivers. The increase helps the elderly and those in our communities most in need.
  • Historic investment in road funding including $156 million for local roads and $320 million for state highways. This budget will include the lowest level of borrowing since 2001.
  • $500 million increase in school funding, including increases in per pupil funding and an increase to 30% reimbursement rate for mental health. The increase in mental health is identical to Gov. Evers’ proposal when he was State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Increase funding by $100 million for the UW System and $25 million for the Technical College System to enhance worker training programs. The budget also maintains the UW tuition freeze for two more years.

All of these priorities were funded without raising any taxes. Additionally, the final budget approved by Joint Finance reduced spending by more than $2 billion compared to the governor’s proposal.

The Assembly and Senate are expected to vote on the budget next week. Watch the action live on wiseye.org.


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