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Steineke: It’s your money

Empower Wisconsin | Feb. 20,  2020 

Editor’s note: The Republican-led Legislature is poised to pass a nearly $300 million tax cut plan. Will Gov. Tony Evers veto it in pursuit of his plan to pump more money into the state’s public education system? Ask him. Call the governor’s office at 608-266-1212, or email [email protected]

Guest column by Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke 

MADISON — “It’s my money, and I need it now.”

Steineke

More than just a catchy tagline used in a series of TV ads, this phrase embodies the philosophy behind a recent legislative Republicans’ tax cut proposal. 

The concept isn’t exactly new, but it is certainly tried and true: when the state takes in an excess of your money, Republicans believe we should be returning that money back to you. And thanks to pro-growth reforms, smart budgeting, and increasing incomes for Wisconsinites, our state’s economy is booming – leading to an estimated $818 million more in tax collections than we expected.

While Democrats in Madison and around the country are clammoring for ways to spend more and more of your hard-earned money and expand the scope of government, my Republican colleagues are committed to returning this surplus back to where it came – the taxpayer.

Focused on helping families, businesses, saving for a rainy day, and paying down a portion of our debt, our bold plan calls for an impressive tax reduction of nearly $300 million.

The cornerstone of the GOP tax cut aims to provide relief to middle class families by increasing the standard deduction. Beginning in tax year 2020, this income tax cut of $214 million will help put more money in the pockets of families across the state – saving an average taxpayer $106 every year. A typical family will have saved over $2,000 in income taxes alone since 2013 from our tax cuts!

In this package, we’ve also prioritized paying down some of the debt held by the State. Just like your family might aim to pay off part of your mortgage early to help save on interest payments in the long run, our plan calls for using $100 million of the surplus to pay off existing borrowing early to save more in the long run.

Our aggressive plan would scale back the personal property tax on things like machinery, tools, and other equipment for local businesses by a total of $45 million. As small business owners currently pay taxes on the purchase of these goods as well as on an ongoing basis, our plan helps level the playing field by eliminating the personal property taxes paid on these goods.

And finally, our Republican tax plan allows for an additional down payment into our state’s rainy day fund. Designed to act as a buffer in the event of an economic downturn, with this latest investment the budget stabilization fund now is approaching nearly $1 billion!

All said, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau now estimates that since 2011 the tax cuts approved by legislative Republicans have saved Wisconsinites more than $13 billion – bringing our overall tax burden to its lowest point in 50 years.

With our economy growing, our schools receiving a historic-amount of support, and a job market that continues to be red-hot, there’s zero doubt our state surplus deserves to be sent back to you and not used to grow government. After all, it’s your money, and you deserve it.

Rep. Jim Steineke represents the 5th Assembly District and resides in Kaukauna. He has served as the Majority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly since 2015.

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