Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein

February 23, 2024


A Big Week: Maps, UW Deal and Tax Cuts

It was a big week in the State Legislature. First and foremost, the Governor signed the redistricting maps that were passed by the legislature. It is good that the redistricting issue is now behind us. This resolution will provide certainty for voters and for the local clerks who administer our elections. It also ends the costly, ongoing litigation that affects all taxpayers.
I cannot say, for certain, what this means in a lot of detail. There are definitely logistical and mechanical issues that must be worked out. However, I was elected to represent the 17th Senate District and that is what I intend to do. I will provide an update when I learn more about how this is going to work.
The legislature also held up our part of the UW deal by passing the enumeration bill for the UW capital projects, which funds the following building projects across the UW System:

  • UW-Madison Engineering Building ($347,336,000)
  • UW-Madison Kronshage-Jorns-Humphrey Residence Halls ($79,211,000)
  • UW-Whitewater Winther/Heide Hall ($75,489,000)
  • UW Systemwide Demolition Projects ($45,400,000)
  • UW Systemwide Central Plants and Utility Distribution System ($149,269,000)

I was proud to author this bill. The new engineering building at UW-Madison will provide the College of Engineering with the space to admit and educate hundreds of additional students, provide increased opportunities for education and research, and allow UW-Madison to recruit and retain world-class faculty. This project has the support of businesses and stakeholder groups across Wisconsin and is a top priority for UW-Madison and the UW System.
The other projects will provide much needed upgrades to living areas, classrooms, and other academic spaces, resolve the most critical heating and cooling plant and utility distribution system repairs at UW campuses, and allow the UW System to demolish empty and unused buildings across Wisconsin. All of these investments will greatly benefit the State of Wisconsin and keep the UW System strong.
We also passed the UW-MN reciprocity bill. The Governor signed the bill that guarantees UW admissions for Wisconsin high school students who graduate in the top 10% of their class. We are making progress on the UW deal.

Finally, we passed new tax cuts that could provide real, meaningful tax relief for the true middle class. My Middle-Class Tax Cut proposal provides broad-based, middle class tax relief by changing the income levels that are subject to current tax rates. The bill expands the amount of income that is subject to income tax in the 2nd tax bracket which is 4.4% while reducing the amount of income that is subject to tax in the 3rd tax bracket which is 5.30%.

Governor Evers has said that $150,000 is middle class. Our bill moves taxpayers who make up to $150,000 into the 2nd tax bracket.  They will now be taxed at 4.4% rather than 5.3%. So, under our bill, a working family making $150,000/year (married, filing jointly) would see a tax decrease of about $800 per year – and they would see this impact starting this summer!

This tax cut will impact actual people in our communities. A combined household income of up to $150,000 is the nurse and cop next door. It’s the two teachers who live down the block. It’s the operating engineer and bank employee. It’s the union factory worker and vet tech.  This is our middle class.

In addition to the new Middle-Class Tax Cut, the Retirement Income Tax Exemption bill will exempt Wisconsin retirement income from state income taxes up to $150,000 for a couple. This will return an average of $1,582 per filer. While we cannot change the weather, we can change our tax climate and encourage retirees to spend more time in Wisconsin rather than fleeing for six months and a day to become Florida or Tennessee residents where there is no income tax.

The Child Care tax credit bill increases the credit to 100% of the federal credit and increases the maximum amount of allowable expenses to $10,000 for one child and $20,000 for two or more children. This tax relief will go right to parents. If the family’s child care provider raises their rates, parents will be able to accommodate the change.

Finally, our Married Couple tax credit bill will increase the maximum credit from $480 to $870. This increase will give families more resources to adjust to our changing economy.
I am hopeful that the Governor will sign at least one of these tax cuts to provide relief to Wisconsin taxpayers. If you want tax relief, please reach out to the Governor and encourage him to sign these bills into law. We can afford it and you deserve relief. It is time to return the surplus to you.

As always, please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance. Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703. I want to hear from you.