Wisconsin Senate passes $2 billion income tax cut, rejects Evers’ $1 billion workforce package
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate passed a $2 billion income tax cut as part of a package also targeting child care costs, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is expected to veto.
Republicans gutted a $1 billion Evers package that he called on them to pass in a special session last month and instead put forward an income tax cut that Evers has already vetoed. The governor’s spokesperson discounted the Republican proposal as an “embarrassing response” and a “completely unserious proposal.”
All Democrats and Republican Sen. Steve Nass voted against the bill, which now heads to the Assembly.
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Republicans wanted to put forth an alternative to Evers’ plan to address the state’s worker shortage.
“We don’t need to grow the size of government or make pandemic-era subsidies permanent,” LeMahieu said. “We need to attract talented people from other states, retain the ones we have here.”
Evers and the Legislature have been tussling for months over tax cuts and funding for child care services. Evers on Monday announced that he was tapping $170 million in federal pandemic relief money to keep the Child Care Counts program running through June 2025.
Evers had called on the Legislature to pass a package that included $365 million in new child care funding; a $65 million boost in University of Wisconsin funding; $200 million to pay for a new engineering building at UW-Madison; $243 million to create a new 12-week family medical leave program for Wisconsin workers and millions more for workforce education and grant programs.
Republicans rejected that last month and instead approved an alternative plan Tuesday, which comes at a higher cost and would also be paid for from state reserves.
Evers has argued that the state’s now $7 billion budget surplus can be tapped to pay for the proposals.
The measure passed by the Senate revives a Republican income tax cut that would cut taxes from 5.3% to 4.4% for individual income between $27,630 and $304,170 and married couples between $18,420 and $405,550.
Republicans rejected a Democratic proposal to send every taxpayer and dependent in the state a $200 rebate check.
The Republican bill would also create a state tax credit for families paying for child care; increase income tax deductions for private school tuition; make professional credentials granted to workers in other states valid in Wisconsin; and prohibit state examining boards from requiring counselors, therapists and pharmacists pass tests on state law and regulations.
The Senate plan also would enter Wisconsin into multistate agreements that allow physician assistants, social workers and counselors to work in all those states. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation could request money from the Legislature’s budget committee to help child care providers become certified.
The proposal also includes requirements that anyone who claims unemployment benefits to meet directly with potential employers, post a resume on the state Department of Workforce Development’s website and complete a re-employment counseling session if they have less than three weeks of benefits remaining.
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