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Evers vetoes trio of GOP-backed bills aimed at reducing taxes

Source: Wisconsin Public Television

Evers vetoes trio of GOP-backed bills aimed at reducing taxes

3 of the 4 bills that were part of the $2.1 billion tax cut package proposed by Republicans were vetoed Friday.

March 1, 2024 3:05 PM CDT

By: Jimmie Kaska

MADISON, Wis. (Civic Media) – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers vetoed three Republican-backed bills that would have changed the state’s income tax brackets, among other things, in an effort to reduce taxes.

Evers said he vetoed the bills because they threatened the state’s long-term fiscal health.

“When we deliver tax relief for the people of Wisconsin—just as we have—it should be real relief aimed at helping Wisconsin’s working families afford rising costs, and it should be responsible and sustainable, ensuring we can keep taxes low now and into the future without causing devastating cuts to priorities like public schools and public safety down the road,” Evers said in his veto message. “Republican members of the Wisconsin State Legislature today once again fail to balance these important obligations.”

Assembly Bill 1020 would have changed the second income tax bracket for state filers, which would have reduced state revenues by over $1.2 billion in the next fiscal year and a little over $750 million every year after that.

“I have been proud to sign several income tax cuts during my time in office, including keeping—and, in fact, well exceeding—my promise to provide a ten percent, middle-class tax cut targeted to Wisconsin’s working families,” Evers said. “Through the income tax cuts I have already signed into law during my time in office, Wisconsin taxpayers will see $1.5 billion in tax relief annually, primarily targeted to the middle class.”

Evers cited similar long-term impacts on the state’s revenue in his veto of Assembly Bill 1021, which he said would decrease tax collections by $658 million next year and $472 million each year after. The bill would have expanded deductions from state taxes for people over 65 years old.

The same argument was made in vetoing Assembly Bill 1022, which would have nearly doubled the married persons tax credit to $870 from $480. It would cost the state an estimated $169 million in year one and $160 million each year after in revenues.

In his veto message, Evers said that the combination of bills would have drained the state’s so-called “rainy day fund” to meet operational expenses by the time the next budget came around in 2025-27. Passing the bills may also have required the state to pay back billions of dollars it received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, according to Evers.

The package bills combined amounted to about a $2.1 billion cut in taxes.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement that Evers “refuses to support tax cuts that directly benefit the middle-class,” adding that the legislation was written with Evers’ previous statements on tax cut bills in mind.

“Even more concerning is the Governor’s disregard for Wisconsin’s seniors, who stood to gain significant relief from the proposed tax cut,” Vos said. “By ignoring their needs and prioritizing political posturing over practical solutions, Governor Evers is failing to fulfill his promise to return the surplus to Wisconsin’s families and seniors.”

Republican State Sen. Dan Knodl decried the vetoes on social media, saying it was the third attempt at tax relief.

“The governor’s unwillingness to compromise is coming at the cost of our middle-class,” Knodl said.

Another Republican Senator, Duey Stroebel, said that Evers’ motive was to use the tax money to “fund liberal pet projects and buy votes headed into an election year.”

Sen. Julian Bradley said Evers was putting his agenda first. “Vetoing legislation that provides targeted relief to low and middle income families, seniors, and workers is flat-out wrong,” Bradley said on social media.

Republican Assembly Representatives Nik Rettinger and Ron Tusler also posted similar reactions on social media.

Evers said in his veto message that he sought “real relief” that was sustainable, in an effort to avoid cuts to education and public safety later on.

Of the four Republican-authored bills that were part of the tax cut package, Evers did not make any action on one of them. Assembly Bill 1023 would adjust the child and dependent tax care credit to align with the federal credit.

Two of the three bills vetoed passed the legislature without any Democratic support. A.B. 1023, which needs action by Tuesday from Gov. Evers, had strong bipartisan support, passing 29-3 in the Senate and 92-4 in the Assembly.

It’s the third veto by Evers of Republican-authored tax cut plans this legislative session.

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