MADISON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) – A local lawmaker says the time has come to eliminate state income tax.
Republican Appleton State Sen. Roger Roth said the timing is right because Wisconsin is now expected to have a $3.8 billion surplus at the end of this budget cycle. That’s $2.9 billion more than expected, according to the projection released Tuesday by the Legislative Tax Office.
Roth has been working on a bill to eliminate state income tax for six months and tells FOX 11 it could be officially introduced next week.
“When you look at all the states that are developing right now, they have no income tax.”
Wisconsin would join nine other states with no income tax and be the first in the Midwest.
“Wisconsin has a demographic problem, people are leaving the state,” Roth said. “We need to do things to inspire individuals, millennials, families to come live, grow and expand their families and businesses in Wisconsin.”
Roth says the state collects about $17 billion in income taxes each two-year budget cycle. His bill would come with revenue triggers, meaning that with the state having surpluses, the extra revenue would be spent on phasing out income tax until it disappears.
“It lets the people of Wisconsin know we’re on the right track to eliminating it.”
Roth says he’d be fine with devoting any surplus to the effort. However, he also said he would like to make sure there is enough money for a bill that would prevent struggling restaurants from having to pay $27 million in taxes on federal subsidies from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
Roth admits that he did not fully integrate his party leadership into his proposal.
“I think they’re aware that we’re working on it, but I haven’t had any conversations to see where they’re at,” Roth said.
On the budget surplus, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu says much of it is the result of a one-time influx of federal funds and the money should be spent on future tax relief. in the next budget.
Governor Tony Evers says, “The people of Wisconsin need help to make ends meet and can’t wait for the next two-year budget – they need help now.
“I don’t think it has to be each other,” said state Rep. Kristina Shelton, D-Green Bay.
Shelton tells FOX she’s keeping all options open right now.
However, she says $380 million of the surplus does not meet federal requirements and could help expedite proposals like her bill to repair Green Bay’s Nitschke Bridge.
“I think that’s a really good way to prioritize some low-hanging fruit from areas of agreement in the bipartisan aisle.”
The keep-or-spend debate is set to continue as both sides seek to sway voters ahead of the November election.