Governor Evers Offers a Plan to Repeal Wisconsin’s Personal Property Tax

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers offered a plan Wednesday to repeal a tax on businesses even though he vetoed legislation to do just that less than two months ago.

Republicans who control the Legislature called the move hypocritical. Evers said he was offering a better plan to end the state’s personal property tax than the one he vetoed, which he has said was drafted in a “haphazard” fashion.

“This legislation will continue our efforts to support businesses and families as they bounce back from the pandemic while ensuring our local governments have the aid they need to remain whole,” Evers said in a statement.

Republican Sen. Duey Stroebel of Saukville, a longtime backer of the effort to end the personal property tax, said the way Evers rolled out his plan “has all the hallmarks of political cover and not serious legislating.”

Republicans who control the Legislature this summer approved a bill to end the personal property tax alongside the state budget. The budget included a provision to provide local governments with state payments to cover revenue losses that would be caused by ending the tax.

Evers vetoed the bill to end the personal property tax because he said Republicans wrote it in a way that could have resulted in an additional tax break for utilities.

He said at the time he backed ending the personal property tax and approved the budget provision that set aside funds for local governments. He now wants to tap into that account for his plan to end the personal property tax.

In a news release, Stroebel accused Evers of “political posturing” and said his plan would treat outdoor advertisers and the makers of manufactured homes unfairly.

Evers said the new legislation was better than the bill he vetoed because it would ensure local governments would receive inflationary increases in state aid to cover their revenue losses.