Government and Political Roundup: Assembly Republicans hoping for a middle-class income tax cutWisconsin News
-- Wisconsin Assembly Republicans say they’ll push for a middle-class income tax cut in the new session that begins Monday.
Wisconsin Assembly Republicans say they’ll push for a middle-class income tax cut in the new session that begins Monday. Incoming Speaker Robin Vos tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that majority G-O-P leaders favor cutting the tax rate for persons and families making 20-thousand to 200-thousand dollars a year. Most married couples who file joint returns in that income range pay six-and-a-half percent of their incomes to Madison. Vos did not say how much of a reduction he and other Republicans would seek. He did say that too many state tax credits have been created – and the G-O-P wants to eliminate some tax breaks for specific business sectors that did not generate their intended economic boosts. Vos also told the Journal Sentinel he wants a full examination of state regulations, with the goal of making life easier for Wisconsin businesses. He said the Assembly committee chairs will review their specific areas to determine where rules can be eliminated – or made simpler.
Governor Scott Walker says reduced environmental protections had almost nothing to do with last year’s defeat of a bill to relax mining laws in Wisconsin. The Republican governor said yesterday that the atmosphere of recall politics caused the package to fail. Walker spoke to businesses in Green Bay, Schofield, and Milwaukee to rally support for another mining package – while majority Republican legislators promised to make it the first issue they address when the new session begins on Monday. Walker said last year’s Assembly bill should be the starting point, with what he called “reasonable changes and improvements” as long as they attract a new mine and create jobs. But Democrats still say the environmental concerns are real. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca says a package needs to be created that both parties can support this time. And he said it needs to be broad enough to not only add jobs – but to protect natural resources as well as the state’s tourism and agricultural industries. The G-O-P rammed through last year’s package in the Assembly, before moderate Republican Dale Schultz joined Democrats in defeating it in the Senate. The bill was aimed at attracting a new iron ore mine by Gogebic Taconite in far northern Wisconsin. The company abandoned the project after the bill failed to pass – but the firm is keeping its options open while lawmakers consider a new bill.
A three-way primary for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is one step away from being assured. Incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack and challengers Ed Fallone and Vince Megna all filed their nomination papers by yesterday’s deadline. And if state election officials confirm that they have enough signatures, all three will square off in a February 19th primary. Roggensack filed her papers last Friday. The other two filed yesterday, and they took digs at each other as well as Roggensack. Fallone, a Marquette law professor, criticized attorney Megna for declaring himself as a Democrat and opposing Wisconsin’s voter I-D law. Megna says voters deserve to know where he stands, and he also came out against assault rifles. But the Milwaukee Lemon Law attorney stopped short of saying how he’d rule on both issues if they come up before the Supreme Court. The court’s supposed to impartial and non-partisan, but Roggensack is part of the court’s conservative majority – and former state Republican Party director Brandon Scholz is her campaign adviser. Fallone has two Democratic operatives on his side – Melissa Mulliken and Nathan Schwantes – but the candidate said he chose the two for their talents and not their party affiliations. Both Fallone and Megna say they want to restore civility to the Supreme Court, in the wake of the 2011 incident in which Justice David Prosser placed his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s neck. Roggensack says the justices are getting along just fine. Scholz says the election should be about Roggensack’s experience – and not about Prosser’s and Bradley’s disagreements.
The two candidates for Wisconsin public school superintendent took jabs at each other about their qualifications yesterday, right after they filed their nomination papers. Incumbent Tony Evers says he has 36 years of experience as a teacher and a school administrator – and Assembly Republican Don Pridemore cannot match that. But the Hartford Representative says he’s a father, and he has served on the Assembly’s Education Committee. Pridemore said school safety should be handled by the individual districts as they see fit – but he says he won’t discuss any other policy ideas until he formally rolls them out during the next few weeks. Evers has spent four years as the head of the state Department of Public Instruction -- and he wants another four years so he can keep working on a new way to pay for Wisconsin’s public schools. Assuming both filed adequate signatures, they’ll face each other in the April second general election.