Joint Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. Mark Born at a WisPolitics.com luncheon said Republicans likely won’t include in their budget Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to allow local governments to implement their own sales tax increases.
Evers has proposed dedicating 20 percent of future state sales tax collections to boost shared revenue by more than $576 million while also allowing local governments to levy a higher sales tax of their own.
Born spoke at Tuesday’s luncheon alongside fellow co-chair Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green. The two said Republicans would build the budget off of base levels. The co-chairs said there are opportunities for agreement with the governor, such as on shared revenue to help fund local governments. Born said that doesn’t mean they support what the governor is proposing, but they agree it’s important to make progress on shared revenue.
“That’s not going to be something we’re looking for,” Born said of the tax increase proposal. “We’re going to be looking for innovation and for really how this money funds the future of what local governments need to provide. So we’re not interested in funding the same old systems with just new money. We want reforms. We want improvements that really fund the future of what are really essential services that local governments have to provide.”
Born, R-Beaver Dam, noted municipalities can still go to referendum to get more funding.
Marklein mentioned changes to Milwaukee’s pension systems as an example.
Evers’ budget would allow about two dozen cities to impose a new half-cent sales tax while allowing counties to double theirs to 1 cent.
Separately, he wants to allow Milwaukee County to levy an additional 1 percent sales tax on top of the 0.5 percent allowed now. The new revenue would be split equally between the county and the city.
“We, collectively, we’ve ignored that for years and something’s got to be done there,” Marklein said of the Milwaukee city and county pension systems.
Born also ripped Gov. Tony Evers for not discussing his proposal to provide $290 million in his budget for the Milwaukee Brewers stadium with Republicans before announcing it.
Born called the move “another example of his failed leadership.”
Evers earlier this month announced the proposal to provide one-time state funds for ongoing improvements at the stadium in exchange for the team signing a deal to stay in Milwaukee through December 2043. That would be 13 years beyond the current lease.
Republicans, including Born, have criticized the way the guv rolled out the proposal but haven’t dismissed the idea outright.
“The governor’s lack of leadership is, ‘I’m going to throw a bunch of money in this budget and just kind of see what kind of mess I can create by creating this stir with no discussion, momentum, explanation, information and how this impacts the state, the community,’ — just a complete void of leadership,” Born said.
Dems have rejected the suggestion GOP leaders hadn’t heard of the proposal until it was publicly released. Evers spokesperson Britt Cudaback referred WisPolitics.com to the governor’s budget address in response to a request for comment.
Born said the discussion over Evers’ proposal would likely carry on for several months as the Legislature will try to gather more information about whether Evers’ plan or another proposal is the way to go.
“I think a lot of people in Wisconsin, certainly southeastern Wisconsin, would like to see the Brewers stay here, you know, so that’s certainly a place to start, but we’ve got to make sure the plan makes sense for taxpayers,” Born said.
Marklein said that Republicans haven’t talked about the Brewers proposal in caucus yet, and he hasn’t decided where he stands.
“My district is a long ways away from Milwaukee, and the bulk of the feedback I’m hearing on that is negative,” Marklein said. “So I think that’s probably the context of millionaire, you know, players, you know, billionaire owners, and it’s just hard to, you know, convince a farmer in Fennimore that this is going to be a great investment.”
Marklein said the co-chairs’ relationship with guv has remained the same compared to previous years.
Born knocked Evers for his state of the state and budget addresses, saying Evers remarks reflected “hard left partisan rhetoric.”
“If you look at his budget, it’s the same bad ideas, bad policy, reckless spending, tax increases, that he sent out the last few budgets. It just keeps getting bigger because of the surplus,” Born said.
Born noted Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, have had a few meetings with the governor and will meet again soon, so Evers might be ready to talk about “tough issues.”
“But so far we’ve seen nothing. It’s all the same,” Born said.
Marklein said he will represent his district, and increasing spending and adding hundreds of new state employees isn’t something his constituents support.
“There’s some things I’m sure, you know, issues that we could agree on,” Marklein said. “But, you know, philosophically in the big picture, the amount of spending, again, and the stuff that he’s got in the budget, we’re just, I think we’re a long ways apart.”
Watch WisconsinEye video of the luncheon here.