Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Lobby aims to resurrect ‘death tax’

In light of last week?s release of a report projecting
possible budget shortfalls between $300 and 400 million, a progressive lobbying
group is petitioning state legislators to cover the gap by reinstating a
recently lifted tax.

The One Wisconsin Now petition asks lawmakers to bring back
the inheritance tax, dubbed the ?death tax? by its opponents. The tax on large
sums passed on in wills has been phased out since 1991 and ended completely in
Wisconsin Jan.1.

Scot Ross, executive director of the group, said the
three-year revenue from the tax would fill the $300 million hole projected for
the budget.


?We want to make sure that people are aware that this pot of
money is just sitting out there; it just started this year,? Ross said. ?We
want to make sure that before they start talking about cuts to new programs for
the poor, the elderly, the disabled and our kids, that they look at the just-ended
inheritance tax.?

The preliminary estimate ? reported in a letter from the
Legislative Financial Bureau last week ? showed tax revenues from the end of
2007 were significantly lower than expected, falling behind the rate of
inflation. Since then, speculation surrounding which agencies could take cuts
has flown.

?If Wisconsin can?t afford assistance to the poor, the
disabled, our seniors and our children, we can?t afford a $300 million tax cut
to the richest Wisconsinites,? Ross said.

Lee Sensenbrenner, spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said the
governor?s office would not speculate on possible cuts until the official
numbers are released in February.

?He doesn?t want to raise taxes to address this thing,?
Sensenbrenner said.

Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbottsford, is a member of the
Legislature?s Joint Committee on Finance and said raising taxes is ?always the
easy way out,? and legislators would have to look inward at efficiency in state
agencies before considering tax increases.

?To, out of the gate, simply say, ?We?re going to reinstate the
death tax ? is not only premature but frankly a little nutty,? Suder said.

Once the official figure for the shortfall is announced, a
bipartisan solution will need to bridge the gap, and legislators are already
examining their options, according to Suder.

?We?re going to take a look at the rainy day fund; we?re
going to look at every state agency,? Suder said. ?The last option for many of
us in the Assembly is going to be raising taxes.?

The University of Wisconsin System ? receiving much of its
funding from the state budget ? could face cuts. UW System spokesperson David
Giroux said it is too early to speculate about that issue.

Suder said he does not think UW is especially in danger.

?The brunt of this is not going to fall on UW,? Suder said.
?While I can?t say they?re not going to be part of the solution, they?re
certainly not going to be any kind of a target for this budget problem.?

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