Developing: After Threatening to Pause Budget Votes, Republican Leaders Appear to Reach Shared Revenue Deal with Gov. Evers

Before yesterday’s Assembly session, Republican leadership spoke about the budget process and proposals to change how and how much state revenues are shared with local units of government. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Finance Co-Chair Mark Born said that committee votes on the state budget would stop until a final deal on shared revenue could be reached with Gov. Tony Evers. As a result, this afternoon’s finance committee meeting will not include the Department of Transportation budget as originally planned, and no further committee votes will be scheduled until a deal is finalized.

The disagreement stems from a plan to allow the city and county of Milwaukee to raise the local sales tax by a total of 2.375 percent to fund outstanding pension liability. The main sticking point appears to be whether the tax increases should be approved by referendum or by the city council and county board. Speaker Vos has held firm that the tax should be put to referendum, and the Assembly passed the bill with this provision on May 17. Gov. Evers and Sen. LeMahieu have said the provision should be removed because it will make the tax increases more difficult to approve. However, Sen. LeMahieu also said in a June 5 interview that he had not yet secured enough Republican votes to pass the shared revenue bill without the referendum provision.

According to WisPolitics today, the deal between Republican leaders and Gov. Evers includes the following changes:

  • Remove the referendum requirement and allow the city council and county board to approve the sales tax increases by a two-thirds majority vote
  • Allow Milwaukee County to increase its sales tax by 0.4 percent (originally 0.375 percent)
  • Raise the minimum increase in shared revenue for most counties and municipalities to 20 percent (originally 15 percent)

Final details are expected later today.

Speaker Vos said yesterday that “if we do not get a deal this week, I think we should strip out all of the Milwaukee things and we will just focus on the balance of the bill,” which provides significant increases in local government aid and repeals the personal property tax. Similarly, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said in a statement that “we made our last, best offer to the Governor. If an agreement is not reached today, the Senate will pursue a shared revenue proposal that does not include an option for Milwaukee to raise additional sales tax revenue.”