Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 15, 2019
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON —It’s been a long time coming, but the bill to end the long-standing, five-county Miller Park sales tax is heading to the governor’s desk.
Will Gov. Tony Evers sign it? Or will he veto it? He has six days (not including Sunday) to decide.
“The bill passed both houses unanimously. I can’t imagine why the governor would not sign this bill, unless there’s some mysterious reason he wants to continue a tax that’s gone on for 24 years and has collected $600 million,” said Scott Kelly, chief of staff for Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).
Wanggaard was co-author of the bill that closes out a tax that cost a former Racine senator his job. George Petak was recalled by his constituents after casting the deciding vote that put the tax in play in 1996.
Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Racine and Washington counties have been stuck with the 0.1 percent tax for nearly a quarter of a century. It originally was expected to sunset in 2010, then 2014, 2015 and 2018.
The bill requires the tax to end by Aug. 31.
Evers’ spokeswoman did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment.
Kelly said the Department of Administration has voiced some concern about the timing, and he said the Milwaukee Brewers “were not terribly happy we ended the tax.” While the Stadium District and the Legislature insist the tax has taken in enough money, the Brewers disagree.
“If the Brewers had concerns, they had 11 months to voice them,” Kelly said.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) on Thursday signed the bill cover sheet, which released the bill for Evers’ consideration.
“It’s with great pride that I was able to take the final legislative step to officially end the Miller Park Tax. I’ve been fighting to make this happen since I began serving in the state Assembly in 2005,” Vos said in a statement. “In fact, I authored a bill (2007 Assembly Bill 941) twelve years ago to sunset the tax. I’m glad that we’re finally seeing the end of the sales and use taxes in 2020 and that excess revenues will be returned to the counties where they were collected.”