Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) has announced his opposition to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) version of the 2019-21 biennial budget. The state budget is scheduled for votes in the Assembly and Senate next week (June 25-27, 2019).
“I simply can’t deceive the taxpayers by voting for a budget that creates a significant structural deficit, generates the largest property tax hikes in a decade, contains unsustainable levels of excessive spending and authorizes an extremely offensive new vehicle miles-driven tax on motorists starting in 2023. This is not a conservative budget by any reasonable analysis. I will vote No,” Nass said.
Nass noted these key objections to the JFC version of the 2019-21 budget:
-It creates a $1.4 billion structural deficit at the start of the next budget period (2021-23). By comparison, the last state budget under Governor Walker had a lower structural deficit of $865 million.
-It generates a net 3.6% statewide property tax increase on a median priced home (about $172,000 over the biennium). The largest increase in about a decade.
-It authorizes $81.7 billion in All Funds expenditures in the 2019-21 biennium; a 5.6% increase over the base year budget.
-It authorizes $37.7 billion in total General Fund expenditures during the biennium (this Fund is financed by state income, sales and excise taxes); a 6.0% increase over the base year budget.
-It increases General Fund expenditures by $2.13 billion over the biennium, but only leaves a staggeringly low closing balance of $38 million on June 30, 2021.
-It authorizes a Capital Projects Budget utilizing bonding in the amount of $1.9 billion. This would set a new historic high for the Capital Projects Budget. By comparison, the last budget under Governor Walker had a Capital Projects Budget of just $1 billion.
-It authorizes the Department of Transportation to develop an implementation plan for a vehicle-miles driven tax on motorists starting in 2023. Under this plan, only the 16 members of the Joint Finance Committee would need to vote on the specific details of this new taxing scheme.
-It authorizes an increase in the annual Automobile Registration Fee of $10. The new annual fee would be $85. This increase is estimated to cost motorists $65 million over the biennium.
-It authorizes a $25 increase in the annual Registration Fee for weight-based Pickup Trucks/SUVs/Minivans. The new annual registration fee would be $100. This would potentially impact all pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans weighing between 4,500 pounds and 6,000 pounds. This increase is estimated to cost motorists $26 million over the biennium.
-It authorizes a $95 increase in the Vehicle Titling Fee. The current fee is $69.50 and will increase to $164.50. The increase is estimated to cost motorists $273 million over the biennium.
These are Senator Nass’ key objections. He has multiple additional concerns with the JFC version of the budget.