Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has expressed his intention to amend the funding plan for Milwaukee unless a resolution is reached this week, Your Content has learned.
The proposed bill aims to increase state aid to local governments throughout Wisconsin, but negotiations have hit a roadblock over disagreements concerning the determination of Milwaukee’s ability to raise local sales tax for pension costs and emergency services.
Vos, a Republican leader, stated during a news conference, “I feel like if we want to get something done, it’s going to be this week.” If no agreement is reached, he advocates moving forward with all provisions in the bill, except those related to Milwaukee.
Although Vos emphasized that this is not his preferred course of action, he expressed a desire to see the bill progress to completion.
However, Vos’s suggestion poses a threat to the increase in aid for Milwaukee. City and county officials have warned of dire consequences, including severe cuts to essential services such as police, fire protection, and emergency services.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson addressed lawmakers last month, expressing concern over the potential for catastrophic budget cuts.
Last month, Vos had declared that he was “done negotiating” after the Assembly passed a bill on local government aid.
On Monday, he met with fellow Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in an attempt to find common ground. LeMahieu has indicated that Senate Republicans want to grant Milwaukee’s governing boards the authority to raise the sales tax, while Vos opposes removing the requirement of a citizen vote as outlined in the Assembly bill.
While Vos expressed his reluctance to modify the vote requirement, he acknowledged, “I’ve been in this job long enough to say never say never.” As of now, there has been no immediate response from Governor Evers’ spokesperson, and LeMahieu refrained from commenting when approached by reporters.
The failure to reach an agreement will result in the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee pausing its work after Thursday, according to Representative Mark Born, co-chairman of the committee.
Numerous funding decisions hinge on the amount of aid lawmakers approve for local governments. The committee is yet to address significant matters such as transportation, K-12 funding, and tax cuts.
The comprehensive government aid bill, as approved by the Assembly, entails increasing state aid to all towns, cities, villages, and counties by a minimum of 15%. However, Milwaukee’s increases would be capped at 10%, with the option to generate additional funding through sales taxes.
An important change introduced by the bill involves allocating 20% of the state’s sales tax revenue to support local governments, known as shared revenue.
This shift would tie future aid increases to sales tax collections, eliminating the need for legislative votes on the matter.
Shared revenue for local governments has remained relatively stagnant for nearly three decades, and it experienced reductions in 2004, 2010, and 2012, according to AP News.