The Assembly is controlled by Democrats 52-46, and the $62 billion budget's passage came without any Republican support. The State Senate will debate the budget Tuesday or Wednesday; it, too, is Democrat-controlled, 18-15.
Republicans have criticized the roughly $2 billion in tax and fee increases -- including increased gasoline and cigarette taxes -- contained in the budget.
Here's the statement issued by Turner Monday:
“This budget that began with a $6.6 billion deficit was balanced with cuts of $3.2 billion in spending cuts, the deepest in Wisconsin history,” said Turner. Turner added that despite criticisms leveled at certain fee increases in the budget, Wisconsin’s income tax rate has remained stable at approximately 11 to 12 % over the past 40 years. “If you make less than $300,000, your income taxes are not going up. If you make more than $300,000, your taxes are still less than those in Iowa and Minnesota,” Turner stated.
Despite criticisms by Assembly Republicans that the budget contained too many tax increases in the form of fees, Turner pointed out that this budget features 2.3% in cuts in spending of state tax dollars. “During their tenure, the Assembly Republicans increased spending of state money by 74% during the 14-year Thompson administration,” Turner emphasized.
“I was somewhat surprised that many higher income people contacted me repeatedly to complain about various budget provisions, especially the language the Governor offered changing the joint and several liability law,” noted Turner. “But the bottom line is that this budget contains no general sales tax increase, no payroll tax increase, and no income tax increase for 99% of all Wisconsin residents.” Due to the many complaints that were received on the joint and several liability issue, Assembly Democrats voted to remove it from the budget. Turner said he expected that the liability issue may be reintroduced as separate legislation sometime in the future.
“I was especially proud of the passage of the KRM project in the budget,” said Turner. The plan is funded by an $18 car rental tax in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties. Under the plan, the passenger rail will only make stops in Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee. Other communities in the tri-county area created by the Regional Transit Authority must develop their own funding mechanisms in order to have a stop in their town or city. “I think this is a workable solution and hope that some of Racine County’s mid-size communities decide to eventually approve plans to offer rail service to their residents,” he added.
“I look forward to seeing the budget pass without too many changes in the State Senate,” said Turner. “Not everyone is going to like everything in this budget, but we protected our core Democratic values of education, job creation, public safety, and support for local communities through the shared revenue program. I believe that the Assembly put forth a very good effort in the face of immense financial distress due to the national economic collapse,” Turner concluded.