More money for local governments: Evers signals support for GOP shared revenue proposal
MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- There could be good news on the horizon for cities like Milwaukee who have struggled to keep up with demand to pay for things such as police, transportation and other services.
During his State of the State address, Governor Tony Evers signaled support for a Republican plan to change how the state passes along money to cities and towns -- known as shared revenue.
Evers said he wants to work with Republicans on a budget proposal to send 20% of the state's sales tax back to communities to invest in services. It's a plan GOP leaders have been discussing for weeks.
The state's sales tax is five cents per dollar. The proposal both sides are interested in would use one penny from every five cents of the sales tax to increase aid to local governments.
"And it means more than half a billion dollars more per year in new resources to invest in key priorities like EMS, fire, and law enforcement services, transportation, local health and human services, and other challenges facing our communities," Evers said during his speech to lawmakers Tuesday.
Despite their policy differences, both sides agree there's a problem with how much money is flowing into local governments, but Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said they have yet to finalize their shared revenue proposal.
"We are nowhere near finding a conclusion, and as you know, all of Gov. Evers' ideas will probably be tossed out to the side like we always do and will start over," Vos said, referring to Republicans' plans to reject Evers' budget proposal and crafting their own as they have in years past.
"So, if he has creative ideas, he should probably reach out and talk to us about it. That's how we can reach a consensus."
If lawmakers and Evers reach a deal, Milwaukee leaders say the city and county will still be in a financial pinch.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said they need both: an increase in shared revenue and the ability to impose a 1% sales tax.
"I've been very consistent in that I need additional shared revenue; I need that increase because it's been frozen and declining for years, but we also need access to a sales tax to get Milwaukee in a competitive position," Johnson said.
Johnson and Crowley said while they're glad Evers and top Republicans seem to be close to a possible compromise, they still have to convince lawmakers to raise their sales tax.
"I truly appreciate what Gov. Evers has put forth, but I think everyone knows that what he's going to put forth in his budget is going to look very different at the end of the process," Crowley said. "So, we know we're going to have to continue to negotiate with the state Legislature to see if we can get a package that's going to benefit everyone."
Since 2006, local governments have been unable to raise property taxes for more revenue after lawmakers put restrictions in place. It's part of the reason why many communities are struggling to pay for essential services.