After seeing increased revenues from recent budget reforms, Gov. Scott Walker announced a $100 million property tax relief plan Thursday that will give back funding to K-12 schools statewide.
The $100 million will be given as aid to schools over the next two years, which will likely lower property taxes for residents throughout the state, according to Walker’s statement.
Walker added the bill would also give the average Wisconsin household $680 over the next four years.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a video statement the bill would return taxpayer dollars to families and businesses, who can spend their money how they choose.
“We are able to do this because of the smart – and sometimes difficult – budgeting decisions we’ve made over the last three years,” Vos said.
Vos added the legislation will be introduced in the coming days, and will hopefully be passed and signed before the end of the fall session in November.
Just before the announcement, Walker called for a special legislative session to pass the property tax relief bill in addition to two other economic development bills.
Melissa Baldauff, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said it is not a coincidence Walker’s announcement came just after Mary Burke announced her run for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.
“It’s not a coincidence that Gov. Walker has a challenger with a strong and proven track record,” Baldauff said. “I think he’s scared and looking for a gimmick to distract from the fact his issues are being exposed.”
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca released a statement Thursday with estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau on how the bill would impact Wisconsin residents.
According to Barca’s statements, the LFB estimates the average property tax increase on the average home would change from $31 to $11, which will lead to inequality in tax relief between residents with some residents not seeing relief at all.
“Gov. Walker and Republican legislators owe the public a lot better than trying to change the subject with a property tax plan that doesn’t even allow Wisconsin taxpayers to break even,” Barca said in the statement.
Barca added the rush to pass the bill by the end of the fall session in November is similar to Walker’s past attempts to pass legislation quickly without recognizing potential statewide consequences.
Kit Beyer, spokesperson for Speaker Vos, said in an email to The Badger Herald the goal is to have the bill passed and signed before property tax bills come out before the end of the year.
The Wisconsin Realtors Association said Walker’s plan will be beneficial to homeowners statewide.
“Reducing property taxes will make housing more affordable for more Wisconsin families and will help reduce the cost of doing business in Wisconsin, both of which will improve our economy,” Steve Lane, WRA chairman of the board, said in a statement.
The National Federation of Independent Business – Wisconsin, a statewide advocacy group for small business owners, also said in a statement that Walker’s plan will be welcomed news for small business owners because the tax relief will help pump dollars back into the state’s economy.