MON PM Update: Fitzgerald says Senate GOP eyeing $400M middle-class tax cut

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— Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said today cutting taxes for the middle class continues to be a priority for his caucus. But he says that can be accomplished without raising taxes on others.

“Because of our good budgeting and the great economy, we can cut taxes without raising taxes on anyone else,” the Rochester Republican said. “We look forward to working with the Senate to enact a middle class tax cut, and hopefully this time Governor Evers won’t veto this bipartisan goal.”

That followed Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald saying his caucus is looking at a $400 million middle-class tax cut for the budget.

The Juneau Republican told the Wisconsin State Journal that Assembly and Senate Republicans hadn’t agreed on a final number, though he said it would be similar to the tax cut the Legislature approved in January.

Evers was critical of the proposal for using one-time money from a projected surplus to cover an ongoing cost.

Evers’ version of the cut would have saved filers $833.6 million over the biennium. But he wanted to raise taxes, including those on manufacturers, to cover the costs. Republican leaders have balked at that approach.

Fitzgerald wasn’t immediately available for comment.

But Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said Republicans are “fighting to protect millionaires” while proposing a smaller tax cut for working families. She also knocked Republicans for not taking federal money to expand Medicaid and relying on fees Wisconsin drivers pay to increase funding for roads.

“Republicans just keep asking Wisconsinites to pay more,” she said.

— Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren today strongly denied the charge that the state’s budget panel is looking to “(smuggle) into the budget” an amendment that would put in place new regulations on so-called wedding barns.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty was among a coalition of groups that in a letter this morning asserted that “there may be an effort underway” to include language in the state budget that would force the venues to obtain a liquor license before allowing consumption of alcohol on the premises. The Department of Revenue currently does not require wedding barns to hold such permits.

But in a tweet this morning, the Marinette Republican called the contention “a boldface lie” and suggested that WILL was “looking to fundraise on this issue.”

WILL later indicated the letter was not specifically targeting Nygren or JFC members. Rather, the group had heard from sources inside the Capitol that the Tavern League — a trade group representing bars, taverns and restaurants that has been staunchly opposed to unlicensed wedding barns — is pushing for the measure to be added through the 999 motion. That’s typically the final addition to the budget while it is before the finance panel.

“It’s unfortunate special interests have been considering a secret attempt to do so,” said WILL Executive Vice President CJ Szafir.

The letter, WILL said, was an effort to prevent that from happening. The conservative group indicated that Nygren’s tweet actually showed they were on the same page as the JFC.

The issue of regulating wedding barns has been brewing for some time, even drawing a last-minute attempt last session to change state law. But that effort was dropped, and a study committee on the topic didn’t get anywhere.

Outgoing AG Brad Schimel issued a nonbinding informal opinion late last year that wedding barns needed a liquor license, a break with longstanding state practice. But a spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers indicated in March that the administration would not support such a change.

Read the letter:

— The conservative Americans for Prosperity is urging lawmakers to pull from the budget a provision Joint Finance added last week that would give the committee the power to impose a mileage-based fee on drivers.

The GOP’s transportation motion included $2.5 million to study implementation of a mileage-based fee. The DOT would then submit to JFC by Jan. 1, 2023, a recommendation on implementing such a plan. The committee could then approve imposing the fee without further action by the full Legislature.

AFP called it an “unprecedented authority for a legislative committee.”

“Allowing a large and controversial fee to be ushered into this state without proper oversight is a dangerous precedent to set for our democracy and the legislative process,” the memo reads. “This proposal must be eliminated from the state budget.”

Read the memo:

— Prominent female political figures this afternoon gathered with advocates at the state Capitol to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

The centennial celebration featured the unveiling of an original copy of the state’s 19th Amendment as well as comments from first lady Kathy Evers, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and lawmakers.

The speakers emphasized the key role Wisconsin — the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment — played in women’s suffrage nationwide.

Wisconsin Historical Society Director Christian Overland then led the unveiling of the original 19th Amendment of Wisconsin, which will be on display in the Capitol rotunda for the remainder of the day.

State Reps. Jessie Rodriguez, R-Franklin, Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison and Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation, spoke to the crowd about organizing women of color seeking the right to vote. The trio noted such women were largely excluded from the mainstream suffrage movement and emphasized the importance of continuing the conversation about women’s rights as a whole — both in Wisconsin and across the nation.

— State Rep. Scott Allen, who was critical of Gov. Tony Evers on Friday for signing an executive order to fly the gay pride flag over the Capitol, issued a new statement today calling the move “an act of government to impose a set of moral beliefs on people.”

On Friday, Allen, R-Waukesha, asked on Twitter if the guv’s action was “any more appropriate than erecting the Christian flag over the Capitol.” That drew more than 500 responses, including those who pushed back on Allen equating being LGBTQ with a religion.

He defended that stance in today’s statement, saying that if government sides with a group and reveals “devotion to a set of moral beliefs and practices, then it could be construed as religious.”

But Allen said his opposition to the move had nothing to do with his own religious beliefs or moral convictions and noted that Americans should be free to love “in the manner that they deem appropriate without discrimination.”

“I oppose Governor Evers actions not because I am a Christian, but because I am an American. It is not the place of Government to raise a flag over government buildings that does not symbolize the unity of the people who are governed,” he said.

The Waukesha Republican concluded by asking if raising the rainbow flag was a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

See the statement:

— Reince Priebus, the former Wisconsin and national GOP chair, has been sworn in as a Navy ensign, a junior rank.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, attended this morning’s swearing-in ceremony, which was performed by Vice President Mike Pence. Both tweeted pictures from the ceremony. U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, also attended, according to the tweets.

Sean Spicer, who served as White House spokesman during Priebus’ stint as the president’s chief of staff, also tweeted he attended the ceremony.

The Washington Post reported in December that Priebus had applied to be a reserve officer.

See Johnson’s tweet:

See Steil’s


Free event: June 17: Navigating the New Economy: The booming border

–Sponsored by WAGET, the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training in partnership with and the Kenosha News —

Even if the Foxconn development doesn’t reach its full promise, the southeastern Wisconsin border economy is booming. But that brings issues in the areas of workforce, housing and transportation. A panel of experts weigh in on how to navigate the issues and make the most of the boom.

When: Monday, June 17, 8 a.m. with breakfast served. Program from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Where: The Civil War Museum, 5400 First Avenue, Kenosha, Wis. 262-653-4141

What: Panel discussion featuring Wisconsin Revenue Secretary Barca; economics Prof. Cassie Lau of Carthage College; Heather Wessling, vice president of economic development for the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and former president of WEDA; plus area state Reps. Ohnstad and Kerkman.

Cost is free, thanks to the WAGET sponsorship.

Register in advance here:



LRB-2136: Recognizing Margaret Rozga for her appointment as Wisconsin Poet Laureate. By Rep. Brostoff.

LRB-2569/P3: Allows law enforcement agencies in Milwaukee to use an automated speed enforcement system to identify speed limit violations. By Reps. Crowley, Novak, Zamarripa, Tussler, Sinicki, Tranel, Goyke, Vruwink, Myers, Fields, Stubbs and Neylon and Sens. Johnson, Bernier and Carpenter.

LRB 3464/1: Recognizing June 3 to 9, 2019, as Hemp History Week in Wisconsin. By Reps. Considine and Kurtz and Sen. Taylor.

Track bills for free:


AP: Wisconsin Republicans plan $400 million income tax cut

Journal Sentinel: DNR refers Johnson Controls case to state prosecutors over failing to report pollution

State Journal: Transportation plan could give finance committee authority to hike new driver fees

WPR: Joint Finance Approves Funding To Expand Rail Service Between Milwaukee, Chicago

AP: Wisconsin celebrating 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment

WPR: Vos Hails Republican Transportation Funding Plan

Politico: ‘He needs some victories’: Trump lashes out over his Mexico deal

Politico: Trump slams John Dean as Watergate figure touts Mueller report

Reuters: House Democrats to get more Mueller evidence, Trump calls witness ‘sleazebag’

Reuters: Trump administration moves to release migrant children faster from U.S. custody

Washington Post: Trump levels new tariff threat against China

Washington Post: Homeland Security watchdog retires early after his office was forced to retract ‘feel-good’ audits of disaster response


– 9 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Transportation public hearing on AB 283, relating to requiring a local referendum to impose a wheel tax, and other bills.

– 10 a.m.: Elections Commission. Members are to hear an update on election security and consider approval of the sale and use of updated voting equipment.

– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 11 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Veterans Chamber of Commerce: “Veterans in the Skilled Trades Workforce.” Panelists include: Bob Zillman, Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council; Michael James, Department of Workforce Development; John Jacobs, IBEW Local 494; Darrel Cappetta, Department of Workforce Development Veterans in Piping Program; Jason Young, Price Erecting; Tom Kelley, Local 8 Iron Workers and Chad van Nuland, Fox Valley Technical College.

– 1 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Ways and Means executive session on AB 251, relating to requiring marketplace providers to collect and remit sales tax from third parties and reducing individual income tax rates based on the collection of sales and use tax from out-of-state retailers and marketplace providers.

– 1 p.m.: Joint Committee on Finance executive session. Members are to consider the following budget items: appropriation obligation bonds; Building Commission; Building Program; Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Board of Commissioners of Public Lands; Natural Resources (Conservation and Recreation); Juvenile Corrections; Veterans Affairs; general fund taxes (income and franchise taxes, sales and use taxes, and excise taxes and other taxes).

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