Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 3, 2020
MADISON — As Wisconsin property taxpayers deal with potentially the highest property tax bills in a decade, it sounds like property tax relief isn’t high on Gov. Tony Evers’ 2020 “to-do list.”
That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Evers did propose about $1.3 billion in tax increases in the current budget.
It’s his excuses — one in particular — for shrugging off property tax relief that is particularly galling to strapped taxpayers.
The Democrat last month told the Capital Times that it was “way too early” to commit spending Wisconsin’s potential surplus when the Badger State has “issues around clean drinking water” and “our schools not having enough resources.”
Six months ago, Evers signed a two-year budget that pumps some $640 million more into K-12 spending statewide, including an additional $65 million he conjured up with his veto pen. That’s on top of the record education spending two years before under Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Evers had little concern in pitching an $83 billion-plus spending plan nearly a year ago. He compromised with the Republican-led Legislature on a final $82 billion biennial budget — about a $4 billion increase from the previous spending plan.
Republican legislative leaders, too, have said they want to see what the revenue numbers look like before committing to tax relief details, but property tax relief appears to remain a high priority for them.
Whether Wisconsin revenue posts another significant surplus, however, is irrelevant to the governor. Tax-and-spend Tony’s impulse is to spend whether the state has better-than-expected revenue or not.
His first instinct is not to give back the money to its rightful owners: the taxpayers. It’s certainly not to cut the size of state government to unburden the taxpayer.
Evers is already downplaying the need for taxpayer relief.
“We just have to make sure that the money exists and this is the best way to spend it,” he said of possible property tax cuts.