MILWAUKEE – Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: there’s a lot more money in Wisconsin’s coffers than they anticipated. It’s how to spend that money that gets tricky.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wants to give residents $150 as a tax refund, but Republicans say it’s an election-year trick. Both sides flip-flopped on the idea. In 2018, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature approved an election-year tax refund — which Evers opposed.
“The price increase is very obvious – grocery stores, restaurants, now that we can get into restaurants again,” Tom, who works in Madison, told FOX6 News. “Deep down, I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I would support it.”
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Evers said under his plan, a family of four would receive $600.
“No, I don’t want it. He can save it. It’s only $150. I’m not interested,” Sun Prairie resident Carol told FOX6.
The plan for those checks comes as Wisconsin gas prices are averaging $3.94 a gallon. Inflation is the highest in four decades, driving up the costs of utilities and food.
“I think it’s a mechanism people can use right now with gas prices going so high,” said State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee).
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“It’s a political gimmick,” said State Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva).
Evers called a special session, asking the state legislature to pass his plan. The Republican-led Senate technically held the session, but if you blinked, you might have missed it — they refused to debate or vote.
“I was actually just outside the room, and by the time I was able to get in the room, it was over,” Carpenter said.
Wisconsin Capitol in Madison
In the past, Republicans have said to give the money, in the form of tax cuts, now.
“If he’s interested in long-term tax reform, that’s what we want to do. We want to take that surplus and turn it into long-term tax reform,” August said. “We don’t want an election year gimmick, that’s all it is.”
The nonpartisan Legislative Tax Office said the surplus came from higher-than-expected tax collection; people are back to work, and more people are spending money. Federal stimulus money has also flowed into the state.