Evers suggests giving native governments the power to levy taxes

MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – Governor Tony Evers wants to allow counties to double their existing sales tax and allow larger communities to introduce a new half-cent sales tax if local voters agree.

Evers announced on Friday that its state budget will include the tax hike option for these local governments. Additional money that the governor could use on local roads, services, maintenance, public safety, and public health.

The Democratic governor's proposal will be presented Tuesday to the Republican-controlled legislature, which must approve everything before it becomes law. Republican co-chairs of the Legislature's Budgets Committee, Senator Howard Marklein and Rep. Mark Born, did not immediately return messages asking for their comments on the proposal.

"From the unexpected cost of the COVID-19 pandemic to years of state neglect and underfunding, communities across Wisconsin have been under immense budgetary pressure and doing more with less for far too long," Evers said in a statement in which the Plan is announced.

Evers' proposal would require approval of a referendum in the affected county or municipality before local sales tax could be increased. Evers said those living in the area who would be affected by higher taxes could choose whether to impose it on themselves.

According to current law, districts can levy sales tax of half a cent. Evers' plan would allow them to double that. All but four of the state's 72 counties currently collect the tax. As part of the plan, communities with 30,000 or more residents could levy half a cent in sales tax for the first time. This would apply to more than two dozen cities across the state, including Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha, Racine, Appleton, Eau Claire, Oshkosh, Janesville, La Crosse, Wausau, and Beloit.

The state sales tax rate is 5%.

The proposal was supported by groups representing local governments. The Wisconsin Counties Association said the sales tax option would reduce reliance on property taxes to fund local services and state-mandated programs.

"Wisconsin Counties have very few options to fund local services," said Mark D. O'Connell, chairman of the Wisconsin Counties Association. "This announcement has the potential to provide Wisconsinites with significant, long-term property tax relief."

Economic and government leaders in Milwaukee city and county also announced the proposal.

"This could lead to a new way to move Milwaukee forward with a more balanced financial structure and make the investments necessary to make Metro Milwaukee a region of choice," said Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

Evers has announced several budget proposals before its plan is released next week. That includes accepting a federal Medicaid expansion to pay $ 150 million for mental health programs. Legalization of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana; Reduce prescription drug costs; create a $ 500 nurse tax credit as part of a $ 600 million investment in long-term care; and expanding programs to benefit agriculture and rural Wisconsin.