(The Center Square) – The split in the half-cent increase in local sales proposed by Governor Tony Evers is evident in the different responses from the state’s business and government groups.
Wisconsin’s largest group of companies, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, said the governor’s proposal to allow communities with more than 30,000 residents to increase their local sales tax would make many parts of the state less affordable.
“Hardworking families and small businesses in Wisconsin have had to make difficult decisions about their own budgets over the past year,” said WMC’s Scott Manley on Friday. “Rather than having similar discussions about how to make government more efficient, this plan only takes more money from taxpayers when they can least afford it.”
Government groups, including those representing local governments who would benefit from the new tax dollars, would welcome an increase in local sales tax.
“Under current law, Wisconsin citizens have the option to vote in a referendum to raise their property tax. Many did. Why not give them an option that many of them would prefer? to avoid an increase in property taxes through the introduction of a small sales tax? JerryDeschane, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, said in a statement.
“For too long, counties have been forced to rely on property taxes to fund local services and government mandate programs, ”said Mark O’Connell, executive director of the Wisconsin Counties Association.
Evers is proposing his tax hike to expand local control and possibly also lower property taxes.
“The state should set the floor, not the ceiling, for local partners, and Wisconsin taxpayers should have a say in whether their communities should have more resources so their local government can continue to provide vital services,” Evers said in his announcement.
Wisconsin sales tax is a flat five percent. According to the governor, 68 of 72 counties have also levied a local sales tax of 0.5%. The special 0.1% sales tax paid on Miller Park expired in April 2020. This has reset taxes in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, Racine, and Kenosha counties.
Evers’ proposal would add more than just to every purchase in the state. Eric Bott of Americans for Prosperity in Wisconsin said the sales tax hike would break one of the governor’s first election promises.
“Just before the 2018 elections, Evers said he would not raise taxes,” Bott said on Friday. “Today he proposed a monster tax hike.”