Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
Governor Walker signs the state budget into law this Sunday.
Here’s another great state budget update from state Senator Frank Lasee.
Reversing Democratic Tax Increases
One Rate at a Time
The left is up in arms about a $676 million tax cut included in Wisconsin’s budget. This isn’t surprising since liberals prefer to raise taxes to fund an ever-expanding list of government programs rather than cut them. In fact, they wanted (by amending the budget) to spend all of this tax cut plus hundreds of millions more. If that’s not bad enough, the Democrats’ amendments would have increased taxes by $646 million. If this type of governing sounds familiar, it’s because it is. When they had a majority in the Senate and Assembly and Jim Doyle was Governor, Democrats raised taxes on Wisconsinites by $5 billion. That’s five billion dollars!
Under the Republican tax cut, everyone who pays taxes gets a break. That’s only fair. We’re also simplifying the tax code by moving from five tax brackets to three brackets and getting rid of some tax exemptions that are used by only a few.
This tax cut is an important step in reversing Democratic tax increases of the past. This will make Wisconsin’s tax rate more competitive with other Midwestern states. By the way, we are still high.
Wisconsin still has a lot of work to do when compared to other states.
The tax cut in the budget is a good start.
Democrats have complained that the tax cuts are only for rich people. Their argument makes a good talking point, but they’re wrong. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that taxpayers having an income of more than $100,000 pay about 60 percent of the income taxes collected in the state and will get just about 54 percent of the tax cut. If you pay more in taxes you will get a bigger tax cut, if you pay less, you will get a smaller tax cut. That’s because you pay more. You get more dollars back, less in percent back, though.
We are working to bring Wisconsin’s tax rates back into balance and make Wisconsin competitive again. This is important because of the low income tax rates in other Midwestern states. Low tax rates let people keep more of their money, meaning they will spend more on their wants and desires, not the governments wants and desires.
In Michigan, the state tax rate is 4.25% for all income levels. In Indiana, it is only 3.40% for all income levels. Even in Illinois, a state known for its big government liberalism, the state income tax is a flat 5.00%. That’s lower than all but one of Wisconsin’s income tax brackets (People in Wisconsin making under $10,000 pay only 4.60%). We clearly have work left to do, and every little bit counts.
The tax cut is just one more step in ensuring that
Wisconsin will continue to be open for business.
Lowering taxes and making the tax code simpler is an important step to making Wisconsin more competitive. The Republican tax cut goes in the right direction. Instead of letting the perfect (an even bigger tax cut) be the enemy of the good (the $676 million tax cut), it's important we bank this tax cut today and continue the fight for an even simpler, fairer and lower tax code in the future.
State budget update
The 2013-15 state budget passed the Assembly 55-42 and the Senate 17-16. The budget tells the state how to spend $70 billion over two years and by law has to be in place by July 1st. Governor Walker will sign the budget this Sunday, June 30th.
In the budget taxes and fees were cut by almost $1 billion. 710 full-time employees were cut from the budget and bonding (borrowing) was cut by $368 million. This budget was the best budget that could pass both the Senate and Assembly.
Here’s a breakdown of major items in the budget.
· Keep the Disabled Veteran's Property Tax Credit where it was prior to the budget - no income restrictions or phase-out.
· $5.3 million to stabilize the Veterans Trust Fund.
· Staffing will be increased at the veterans’ homes at King and Union Grove.
WEDC and Job Creation
· Annual independent financial audit for the previous year starting in 2014.
· Employees of WEDC will be subject to state ethics laws and have to file an annual statement of economic interest.
· Increased the limit on the amount of economic development tax credits WEDC allocates by $36 million.
· Able bodied adults will now have to work 20 hours a week or enroll in job training to get FoodShare (food stamps). The work rules only apply to people between age 18 and age 50 and those who are not pregnant.
Children and Families
· Increases foster care rates by 5% over the biennium.
· Created Office of Inspector General in the Department of Children and Families to strengthen integrity, auditing and compliance processes associated with public assistance benefits.
· Gave $12.5 million more for local child support enforcement activities.
· Created a private school income tax deduction available to any parent with a child in a private school. The income tax credit is $4,000 per pupil enrolled in grade K-8 and up to $10,000 per pupil enrolled in grades 9-12.
· Minimal statewide expansion of school choice. The program is limited to 500 students in the 2013-14 school year and 1,000 students in the 2014-15 school year. No more than 1% of a school district may participate in the program and income limits were set the same as the limits for free and reduced lunch.
· Increased public school spending by $300 per student over two years.
· First tuition freeze on undergraduate in-state tuition in 42 years.
· Projects that the UW System wanted including economic development projects, employment relations issues, or other needs the system would like will have to be funded from their reserve instead of additional taxpayer and student spending.
· Requires a claimant for Unemployment Insurance (UI) look for at least four jobs a week.
· Changes the reasons a person can quit a job and still get UI – this was brought more in line with other states and changed definitions in UI law on what is misconduct.
· The UI reforms will help reduce fraud preserving the UI fund for people who really need it.
· Created Local Crime Prevention Boards funded through a Local Crime Prevention Surcharge.
· Created a pre-release pilot program for prisoners.
· Provided pay progression compensation increases for Assistant District Attorneys.
· Continued commitment to fund major transportation projects in our state like the Zoo interchange, Hoan Bridge and the I-94 corridor.
· 4% increase for mass transit and general transportation aids, like road aids to local governments beginning in 2015.
· In the past, the transportation fund was one that had been previously raided, and with this budget, we've paid back the total amount of funds that had previously been taken and abused.
Natural ResourcesStewardship bonding was reduced by $63.5 million through 2020. The stewardship program is re-focused on developing and improving the 17% of land already owned in Wisconsin by state government.
State Capitol Room 316S- PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53708