State Budget-Writing Committee Begins by Stripping Hundreds of Governor Evers’ Items Out

The state Legislature’s powerful budget-writing committee began its work Thursday on the next two-year spending plan by removing hundreds of proposals from Gov. Tony Evers.

The vote by Republican lawmakers to remove nearly 400 measures proposed by the Democratic governor eliminates more than $3 billion in revenue sources proposed in his plan. The Republican-controlled committee will instead work from the state’s current budget, which was largely written by GOP lawmakers in 2019 and modified by Evers through vetoes.

The committee will spend the next several weeks balancing the state’s two-year spending plan, which leaders say they will do without raising taxes.

“We have a large surplus we can use that to invest in priorities,” Joint Finance Committee co-chairman Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, said. “And we can return some of the money to the taxpayers.”

The Republicans’ plan also removes from the budget tax increases and tax breaks that Evers had recommended.

Evers wanted to scale back a policy that exempts manufacturers from income taxes, keeping it in place only for small operations. He also proposed increased taxes on capital gains.

Evers wanted to let municipalities and counties raise the sales tax by 0.5% in their areas if approved by voters.

Among the measures to be cut from Evers’ budget were:

  • Plans to legalize medical and recreational marijuana that would bring in $165 million a year in marijuana taxes.
  • Raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.60 this year and $10.15 in 2024.
  • Repealing Act 10, the 2011 law that greatly restricted collective bargaining for most public workers.
  • Ending “dark store” policies for property assessments. Municipal officials have long complained that successful big box stores have been able to lower their assessments — and thus their property tax bills — by comparing their stores to shuttered retailers with low values.