Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Will Democratic inaction raise taxes $600 million?

I'm still optimistic a deal can be reached to avoid the property tax increase. I can't really believe the State Senate Democrats want to be responsible for such an increase heading into next year's elections.

NEWS RELEASE: Waukesha County Representatives urge Senate passage of overwhelmingly bipartisan school aids, property tax relief package

September 26, 2007


Rich Zipperer (608) 266-5120
Bill Kramer (608) 266-8580
Joel Kleefisch (608) 266-8551
Scott Newcomer (608) 266-3007

HEADLINE: Waukesha County Representatives urge Senate passage of overwhelmingly bipartisan school aids, property tax relief package
SUBHEADLINE: 20 Democrats join 50 Republicans to prevent $600 million property tax hike

Madison-With the September 28 deadline set by Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Libby Burmaster bearing down on the state legislature, Waukesha County Assemblymen Kleefisch, Kramer, Newcomer, and Zipperer renewed their calls for Senate Majority Leader Judy Robson and Governor Jim Doyle to pass and sign a historical K-12 funding and property tax relief package.

"Last week, the Assembly put aside partisan politics and voted to fund K-12 schools and local governments at levels the Governor requested in his budget," said Representative Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc). "Assembly Republicans offered legislation that received overwhelming support on both sides of the political aisle, including the Democrat Leader of the Assembly. Why Sen. Robson refuses to call the state Senate into session and act to prevent a $600 million tax increase, is

AB 506 and AB 507 passed the state Assembly last week on a lopsided 70-27 vote, even garnering the support of Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser (D-Kenosha) and all nine first-term Democrats. AB 506 matched funding levels called for by Governor Doyle in February while AB 507 puts into place a property tax freeze similar to the one Governor Doyle signed into law in 2005.

"Assembly Republicans have passed legislation that will prevent a $600 million property tax increase, yet Senate Democrats, led by Judy Robson, refuse to take up this legislation. When Governor Doyle echoed Superintendent Burmaster's concerns that failure to provide state aid to schools would result in significant increases in property taxes, we presumed that he was committed to any reasonable measure to avoid such a situation." said Representative Scott Newcomer (R-Hartland). "With two
days left, the Democrats' concern rings hollow."

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, failure to meet the September 28 deadline will likely result in a $591 million property tax increase to cover the shortfall in state aid.

"As contentious as budget negotiations have been, the Assembly vote last week showed seemingly rare bipartisan agreement. The Assembly, recognizing that the deadline imposed by Superintendent Burmaster was looming, decided that in the interest of time and good faith, provided $12.3 billion in school aids and fully funded the Shared Revenue program. We showed that it can be done using existing sources of
revenue without always resorting to tax increases," said Representative Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha).

To date, all 15 Senate Republicans have indicated they would support the school aids and property tax freeze package. Senator Robson was quoted in press accounts that she intended to "ignore" it. Her refusal to grant the bill a vote in her chamber could ultimately cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Elizabeth Burmaster gave the legislature a deadline of September 28th to act on school funding," said Zipperer. "Failure to act by the 28th will result in a $600 million property tax increase. The Assembly did our work and approved the necessary funding last week. It's time for the Senate to stop their charade and act on school funding."


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