Governor Evers Unveils Plan to Fund Local Governments with Sales Tax

Governor Tony Evers on Tuesday proposed that counties and more than two dozen large cities in Wisconsin be allowed to ask voters to raise the sales tax to pay for local services such as police and fire protection and road repairs.

He first unveiled a proposal to change how local governments are funded in his State of the State speech last month. Evers announced the local option sales tax part of the plan on Tuesday, a week before he submits his two-year budget proposal to the Legislature.

The Governor, wants to fund local governments with 20% of the state sales tax, or 1 cent of the 5-cent sales tax charged per dollar spent. That amounts to about $576 million in the first year, with future payments increasing as the sales tax goes up, Evers said. Evers’ plan is similar to one that Republican legislative leaders have been discussing.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement that Republicans “will not grow the size of government or write blank checks without insisting that local governments innovate and combine services to reduce costs.”

All Wisconsin counties are now able to only levy a half-cent sales tax.

Evers’ proposal would allow for Milwaukee County to impose an additional 1 cent per dollar tax on sales, with half of what is raised going to the city of Milwaukee, if approved by voters. All other counties could ask for a half-cent sales tax increase.

Cities other than Milwaukee with at least 30,000 people could also ask voters for a half-cent sales tax increase. There are 25 cities with at least 30,000 people, based on the 2020 Census.