An Assembly committee has OK’d along party lines a GOP-authored shared revenue bill, even as Republicans noted the legislation will be revised before it hits the floor next week.
That prompted Dem members of the Local Government Committee ahead of yesterday’s vote to question why members were even bothering to vote on the bill without first seeing changes.
Rep. Clinton Anderson, D-Beloit, noted Republicans have already said they were looking to revise provisions such as one that would allow municipalities to count the number of citations issued by police or arrests for local ordinance violations toward a requirement that they maintain their commitment to law enforcement.
He cited a number of other provisions that Dems find problematic, including restrictions on Milwaukee and Milwaukee County as part of a section that would allow them to impose new sales taxes. That includes a cap on how much of their budgets could go toward spending on the arts.
“This is not just a shared revenue bill,” Anderson said. “This is a shared revenue bill with a lot of strings that prevents local control.”
Chair Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, said Republicans didn’t propose any amendments ahead of yesterday’s meeting because negotiations between the two houses were ongoing. He added it wouldn’t be worthwhile to change the bill and then do it again during the floor debate.
Novak told reporters after the hearing the Assembly plans to vote on the bill Wednesday and that “everything is on the table” as Republicans continue to negotiate final details of the plan. He said changes are expected before the Assembly vote.
During the meeting, Novak rebuffed complaints from Dems that the bill was moving too fast after it was introduced last week.
He said Republicans have been discussing directing more state money to shared revenue since November, and his caucus has been briefed regularly on the issue and negotiations. Those talks have included Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Milwaukee County Exec David Crowley, and Dem Gov. Tony Evers and his staff.
“We’ve been in the loop the whole time because our leadership, who’s negotiating, gave us framework, what they were working on. I just assumed that you guys were, too,” Novak said.
The committee rejected 8-4 along party lines a Dem amendment that sought to strip out a series of provisions. That includes, for example, requiring school districts to keep track of crimes committed on their property.
Dems said their amendment was a “clean bill” that largely retained provisions to dedicate one penny of the state’s 5-cent sales tax toward shared revenue, repeal the personal property tax, and allow Milwaukee County and the city to impose new sales taxes.
The Dem amendment would’ve retained the requirement that the county and city put the proposed sales tax hikes of 0.375 percent for the county and 2 percent for the city to voters for approval through a referendum. Local officials have balked at that requirement.
The committee then voted 8-4, again along party lines, to advance the GOP proposal as it was introduced last week.
The Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems and the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions have both noticed that they will vote by paper ballot on the GOP shared revenue bill. Those ballots will be available today with a Monday morning deadline to return them.
Those votes are considered formalities as the bill works its way through the Legislature. State law requires any bill impacting retirement systems to go through one joint committee and those impacting tax exemptions the other.
The Joint Committee on Tax Exemptions vote will only be on the personal property tax repeal provision in the budget and will be limited to expressing whether it is good public policy, according to the office of Rep. Tyler August, who co-chairs both committees.
Likewise, the vote by the Joint Committee on Retirement Systems vote will be limited to the provisions that would impact the pension programs for Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, including moving new hires into the state system.
See the hearing notices: