From the Wausau Daily Herald.
Posted December 14, 2007EDITORIAL:
Senate to tear up school tax formula
Senate Democrats are making a revolutionary revision of school taxes in Wisconsin one of their top priorities for the coming session.
In a meeting Thursday with the Daily Herald's Editorial Board, Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker said he and his colleagues will introduce a measure exempting the first $60,000 of a home's value from local school taxes.
That would ease the burden on low- and middle-income folks but bring less money to school districts. To make up for the loss, tax rates on home values above $60,000 would be raised -- a rate that also would apply to commercial and industrial properties.
For example, the owner of a $150,000 home would pay no taxes on the first $60,000 of the home's value, but a higher rate on the remaining $90,000 of value.
Decker, a Weston Democrat, said details of the plan still are being worked out. But it's an intriguing idea.
Not too long ago, homeowners paid for about half of all local school costs. The other half was paid for by businesses, either directly through property taxes or indirectly through taxes on equipment and other property that was funneled through the state and then to districts.
Not anymore. Business lobbyists, arguing that the tax burden on them drives jobs out of Wisconsin, got many of those taxes repealed or reduced.
"The result is that today, homeowners pay about 70 percent of all school costs," Decker said. "We're just trying to restore some of the balance."
How much balance? Decker can't say.
The proposal hasn't been fleshed out enough for him to attach any sort of dollar amount to it -- he can't tell the owner of an $80,000 home how much he might save, or the owner of a $5 million business how much more she might pay.
But he said Democrats in the Senate are serious about the measure. When asked to name his top priorities for the coming term as majority leader, it was the first thing Decker mentioned.
It's worth noting that the measure doesn't address overall school spending. If a district collects $50 million in local property taxes today, it still would collect $50 million -- if all else remained the same -- if the proposal were enacted.
We'll withhold judgment until the Senate offers a final draft and we're all able to see what it means to individual property owners.
But homeowners feel, with more than a little justification, that they're getting hammered while big business is getting a cheaper and cheaper ride. If legislators can find a way to restore some balance without costing jobs or placing more of a burden on small businesses, they'll have achieved something.
Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker also told the Daily Herald's Editorial Board that he and his colleagues soon will advance a measure calling for public financing of state Supreme Court elections.
That can't happen a moment too soon.
Annette Ziegler, the most recent justice to assume a seat on the high court, is a poster candidate for public finance. Already she has admitted to violating ethical standards by ruling on cases in which she had a personal financial interest.
And on Wednesday, the Supreme Court deadlocked on a decision after Ziegler was forced to step aside because she had taken campaign money from lobbyists involved in the case at hand.
Again, Decker wasn't versed in the specifics of the plan. But it's insane to allow special interests to essentially buy seats on the state's final arbiter of disputes.
We look forward to hearing more on this topic from the Senate.
Wow, what a great idea!
How many tax payers in Wisconsin have a home for $60,000.00 or less?
So property owners would save on the first $60,000.00 and businesses would pick up the difference in their taxes.
Business taxes go up,
employers cut back on help,
employee's make less money
or worse yet get laid off,
employee's now out of work and collect unemployment,
Employers taxes go up again to pay for more unemployment benefits,
Employers go out of business or
move out of the state?
Where, when or how will it stop?
You people keep electing these tax and spend liberals and rino's.
You get what you vote for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(just like Pepsi Max) - WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!