Republicans call sales tax holiday a gimmick

Republicans defend historic tax credit
Republicans call sales tax holiday a gimmick

Republicans on the Legislature’s budget-writing committee aren’t showing much love for Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed sales tax holiday.

Two GOP senators during a Wednesday briefing referred to the proposed sales tax holiday as a gimmick.

Walker wants to forgive sales taxes on some back-to-school items for a weekend in August each of the next two years. It’s projected to reduce state tax collections by $11 million.

But Sen. Luther Olsen says he’s concerned about the loss of sales tax revenue for local governments. Both he and Sen. Howard Marklein say they’re worried about the hassle for small businesses to reprogram their cash registers for the temporary tax change.

Marklein says, “I think it’s a gimmick, totally, and not worth it.”

Republicans defend historic tax credit

Republican lawmakers are questioned Walker’s proposal to cap a popular historic tax credit program at $10 million a year.

Joint Finance Committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren asked the state’s chief economic development official Wednesday what the rationale was to limit credits under the program.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary Mark Hogan says the cap was proposed “so we can get the best value out of those dollars.”

Walker called for the same limit two years ago, but was brushed back by the Legislature after a forceful lobbying effort by a coalition of development, municipal and historic preservation groups. The same coalition is regrouping for another fight this year.

Nygren is also raising concerns that only a handful of projects under the program were in the northern third of the state.

Revenue chief defends manufacturing tax credit

Walker’s Revenue Department secretary is defending a manufacturing tax credit that’s cost far more than originally expected.

Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler said the manufacturing and ag tax credit has helped led to an increase of 31,000 manufacturing jobs in the state since 2011. The tax credit was passed in 2011 but took effect in 2013. It’s projected to cost $1.4 billion by mid-2019. It’s costing more than twice as much as originally estimated now that it’s fully implemented.

Democratic Rep. Gordon Hintz pressed Chandler for evidence that growth in manufacturing jobs the past six years was due to the credit. Hintz says, “You can’t point to any evidence thins was remotely effective.”