Group asks Gov. Walker to remove provision in state budget

MADISON (WITI) -- A provision in the state budget requires municipalities to cut taxes by the same amount they hike fees -- prompting a group to ask Gov. Walker to remove that rule from the budget.

There is a provision in the $68 billion budget plan that focuses on the ability of cities, villages and local entities to collect taxes. It requires a municipality to reduce taxes by the same amount that it increases any new fee for: garbage collection, snow plowing, street sweeping, fire protection, and storm water management.

Barnes represents Milwaukee, and calls the provision an attack on the city.

"It attacks local control and it stifles the growth of municipalities. It's a crunch. It crunches the local budget. Municipalities, it's not like we have just these thriving coffers. It's not like there's a lot of money.  To put city authorities in that bind is unconscionable," Rep. Mandela Barnes (D - Milwaukee) said.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Vos (R - Burlington) says the provision will keep local governments from raising fees on specific services, only to use the money for other things.

"What we want is local governments to make sure they squeeze out efficiencies, and they are a good steward of taxpayer dollars. What we've seen -- communities all across the state use these fees as a piggy bank for other programs, because they don't have the ability to raise taxes," Vos said.

A letter from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities has been sent to Gov. Scott Walker, asking Gov. Walker to veto this part of the budget -- saying it strips locally-elected officials of the ability to make financial decisions.

"We're not dictating to them, because ultimately they have the ability to go to referendum," Vos said.

"I don't want to go around just taxing everybody, but we're in a time here where sometimes you have to find ways to grow our municipalities and there's no growth without that revenue," Barnes said.

Gov. Walker is mulling over whether he'll use his line-item veto on any budget items. That decision could be announced later this week.