UPDATE: Property Tax Relief Plan Passes Joint Finance, Senate

MacIver News Service | October 15, 2013

Update at 5:29pm on 10/15/13:

[Madison, Wisc…] The Senate passed the property tax relief plan on a 28-5 vote on Tuesday and passed the two special session bills regarding TIF districts on a voice vote. The Senate did not vote on the fourth special session bill that would increase the supplement to the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit.

Original Post:

[Madison, Wisc…] The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) voted on Tuesday to pass a set of four bills that include a $100 million property tax relief proposal.

The property tax proposal was announced by Governor Scott Walker last week. The plan will increase state funding to the local school district equalization aides, which will lead to lower property taxes for homeowners in Wisconsin.

Property taxes are expected to decrease $33 for the biennium on a median-valued home. If signed into law, homeowners would see a reduction on their December tax bill.

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) started the debate in JFC by reminding committee members of the tough decisions that have been made over the past few years, which led to tax cuts and the largest contribution to the state’s rainy day fund in history.

“I think it is a credit to our state that we were able to overcome so much adversity is such little time,” Darling told the committee.

Democrats on the Committee voted for the property tax relief plan, but did raise concerns over the use of the newfound surplus and if the property tax cut would actually help Wisconsin taxpayers.

“We need to put this in perspective,” Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) said. “Recognize that this is symbolic. We probably need some bigger reforms.”

Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) responded to Shilling by explaining that the reforms put in place since 2011 have been a complete turnaround from previous policies in the state.

“People who saw their property tax bills go up 27% would not call this symbolic,” Nygren said referencing property tax increases over the past decade.

JFC voted on 3 other special session bills that would expand the authority of the towns of Brookfield and Somers to create Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts and would increase the supplement to the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit.

The Committee voted 16-0 on three of the four bills. JFC passed the historic rehabilitation bill 13-3. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation in a special session Tuesday afternoon.