Thousands of businesses across Wisconsin would not be taxed for coronavirus aid under a plan approved by state lawmakers Tuesday.
Under Wisconsin said companies in Wisconsin that received Paycheck Protection Program loans under state coronavirus aid last year would not have to pay state income taxes on their loans and could deduct expenses paid with loan funds from their state taxes. These guidelines already apply to federal taxes.
The measure was passed by the State Assembly with 87 to 3 votes. It passed the Senate with 27-5 votes.
During the debate in the gathering, State Representative John Macco, R-Ledgeview, the sponsor of the law, argued that the measure was necessary to support small businesses across Wisconsin.
“What this bill does … is a prime example of good governance that continues to put Wisconsin first, reaffirming that our small business community should not be penalized for accepting help at a time of great uncertainty,” said Macco.
The Paycheck Protection Program Loans, Approved by Congress and introduced last spring, they were available to small businesses, most with 500 or fewer employees. The funds could be used to cover expenses like rent, utilities and payroll as business declined during the pandemic. For the most part, the loans were forgivable.
Although most ultimately voted to support the bill, some Assembly Democrats argued that the proposal should be more targeted at companies that lost money during the pandemic. They argued that some companies actually made profits over the past year.
Minority leader Gordon Hintz, R-Oshkosh, backed a plan that would have capped state tax withholding at $ 250,000 and provided $ 241 million in state grants to weak businesses.
“T.Here is a better way to do it, and for those of you who want our tax dollars to be spent wisely, transparency and accountability, “Hintz said during the debate.
Some opponents have argued that the legislation allows “double immersion” because it prohibits companies from taxing the loans as income and allowing them to deduct expenses paid with the forgivable loan money.
“The tax cut would significantly reduce the amount of resources Wisconsin has to invest in families, schools, and communities hit by the pandemic and recession, and it would not help many small businesses that are the intended beneficiaries,” said Jon Peacock, project leader at the Wisconsin Budget Project.
According to According to a memo from the legislature’s impartial budget bureau, the plan to exempt the loans from state taxes would cost Wisconsin approximately $ 419 million in revenue over the next three years.
Companies I’ve campaigned for the amendment to state law for weeks, arguing that Wisconsin companies that struggled during the pandemic shouldn’t have to pay extra money after receiving federal assistance.
“We absolutely have to make sure this gets fixed,” said Kristine Hillmer, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, in one written testimony to the legislature in the last month. “Otherwise, many small businesses will not be able to pay their state income taxes and we will see many business closings.”
According to the federal governmentIn 2020, approximately 90,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling nearly $ 10 billion were made in Wisconsin. So far this year around 26,000 loans have been made in the state, totaling around $ 2 billion.
The proposal also includes other changes to state tax law, including health insurance deductions for the self-employed and deductions for catastrophe loans for economic damage. These changes would cost the state around $ 121 million over the next three years, according to the legislature’s budget bureau.
The bill is now going to Governor Tony Evers’ desk. The governor has not said whether he will sign the plan, but the unilateral votes in the legislature mean that if the legislature vetoed the bill, lawmakers could potentially override the governor.
GOP Senate Approves COVID-19 Bills
Also on Tuesday, state senators passed a package of Republican COVID-19 bills that Evers could target at vetoes if they were to clear the full legislation.
Proposals include one banning the state Department of Health and local health authorities from requiring anyone to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine.
They also include a bill banning state and local health officials from closing or prohibiting gatherings at places of worship, a power currently conferred on them under state law.
Evers recently vetoed similar proposals when Republicans included them in a broader COVID-19 bill.
Republicans also passed another law that would prohibit the state from giving priority to prisoners in order to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
State Senator Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, the measure’s sponsor, said prisoners should be eligible to receive the vaccine at the same time as other members of the public of similar populations, not sooner.
“This bill ensures that prisoners do not stand in line,” said Wanggaard.
Democrats argued the plan violated the state’s responsibility to care for prisoners who are already forced to live in confined spaces where COVID-19 can spread faster.
“Your sentence is what the court gave you. You shouldn’t die because we refused to do the right thing,” said Senator Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee.
Several groups reported lobbying against the plan, including the Catholic conference in Wisconsin.
“Senate Bill 8 does not respect the dignity inherent in every detainee and the compassion owed to all,” said Kim Vercauteren, executive director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference. “In the interests of justice and mercy, we urge you to oppose SB8.”
More than half of the Wisconsin prison population is infected with COVID-19 and at least 25 inmates have died.
The Senators also passed another Republican proposal requiring the governor to submit a plan to lawmakers for all state employees to return to their offices instead of working from home in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The bills on the vaccination mandate, church closings and vaccines for prisoners all cast votes, while the plan for civil servants was partisan.
Senate Promotes Vaccine, Pharmacy Benefits Managers, Defense Lawyers, Elder Abuse Bills
Two more bills passed by the Senate on Tuesday, specifically related to vaccines, could stand a better chance of becoming law.
Dentists would be allowed to give COVID-19 and flu vaccines after completing an eight-hour course on vaccination storage, protocols and techniques.
The other, already passed by the assembly 90-1, would allow pharmacy students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
Both measures were cast with votes.
On Tuesday, the Senators passed a plan with 31 votes to 1, according to which the pharmacy’s performance managers must register with the state. A similar proposal was passed in the last session of the Wisconsin Assembly, but never in the Senate.
The latest proposal would require pharmacy performance managers to provide the state with annual reports on discounts they receive from drug manufacturers. They would also need to indicate how much of that discount they are keeping to themselves and not giving it to health plans or their clients.
The bill would also prevent pharmacy performance managers from preventing pharmacists from informing patients about cheaper alternatives to a drug.
“There are good actors and bad actors in every industry, and this bill rewards the good actors while keeping the bad actors under control,” said Senator Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma.
In addition, the Senators on Tuesday passed a plan that would allow the state Public Defender’s Board to offer public defenders performance-based raises.
The Senators also passed two bills that would increase penalties when crimes are committed against older adults.
Editor’s Note: This story is being updated.