Wisconsin tax plan: Gov. Evers wants to boost middle class

Gov. Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers released more specifics on how he plans to direct tax benefits toward low-income and middle-class Wisconsin earners under his executive budget.

The governor's office released details Sunday showing the plan would limit exceptions that benefit wealthy filers, outlaw state taxes on federal student loan relief and follow through on Evers' campaign promises for $1.2 billion in tax cuts over two years.

But the Republican-controlled Legislature, which has repeatedly clashed with Evers over how to use the state's record $7 billion surplus, is unlikely to support those ideas. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he wants "significantly" higher tax cuts than the $3.4 billion enacted in the last budget.

Republicans back a plan that would benefit the state's wealthiest taxpayers by moving to a flat 3.25% income tax rate over the next four years. Evers has promised to veto any flat income tax plan passed by the Legislature.

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The governor is set to release his full 2023-25 spending plan Wednesday. The Legislature’s finance committee will spend the spring revising the document before sending it back to the full Senate and Assembly for approval. From there the budget goes back to Evers, who can rewrite it to his liking with his partial veto powers.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, who first proposed the plan for a flat tax, declined to comment on the governor's proposals until after the full budget has been released.

Evers first outlined his tax plan in August while running for reelection — a move Republicans criticized as a "vote-buying ploy." As promised, the plan published Sunday includes a 10% tax cut for single people earning $100,000 or less and couples earning $150,000 or less, as well as tax credits for caregivers and families with children and tax relief for seniors and veterans with disabilities.

It also adds new plans to outlaw state taxes on federal student debt relief and limit a 30% tax exclusion on capital gains to individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making less than $533,000.

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The announcement Sunday did not include measures Evers promised in August to cap the cost of insulin at $35 and end a law requiring gas stations to mark up the cost of gas. Evers' spokesperson, Britt Cudaback, said both items would be included in the executive budget.