Last week, the Governor gave his State of the State address and outlined his proposal for returning the state’s over $900 million budget surplus back to taxpayers. This latest effort to deliver tax relief would be accomplished through reducing property taxes, a reduction in the bottom income tax rate, and adjusting income tax withholding tables that will increase the amount of money workers keep in each paycheck. Additionally, the Governor proposes using a portion of the surplus to deposit in the state’s rainy day fund to help safeguard taxpayers against future economic downturns.
The Governor’s plan seeks to reduce the impact of technical colleges on property tax bills by providing over $400 million in property tax relief. I have heard from citizens throughout our region expressing their frustration with the growth of the technical college levy on their tax bills. In past legislative sessions, I have proposed legislation seeking to increase the state’s commitment to funding technical colleges in order to reduce the property tax levy. I am pleased that the tax relief proposal before us acknowledges these concerns and would act to reduce the technical college levy.
In addition to enacting further tax relief, the State Legislature is working to finish action on a number of important initiatives and measures as we head into the final weeks of our legislative session. The State Senate took bipartisan action last week to approve ten bills seeking to improve mental health treatment in our state. These bills were the product of a bipartisan task force that was charged with reviewing and proposing reforms to state laws on mental health issues.
A number of bills I have been working on were also advanced or received public hearings last week. Several of these bills were brought to my attention by residents of our area, including Senate Bill 325, a bipartisan effort to strengthen state laws prohibiting dangerous synthetic drugs, such as K2 and bath salts. Law enforcement and school officials have expressed alarm over the increased availability and growing use of synthetic drugs and the associated risks that result from using these substances. Senate Bill 325 received final approval from the State Legislature this week and will now be sent to the Governor for his signature. Other bills acted on that were brought to my attention by constituents include:
• Senate Bill 75, legislation that would bring Wisconsin’s laws in line with those of neighboring states involving three vehicle combinations of recreational vehicles. This legislation received final legislative approval and will make our state more inviting to travelers and tourists.
• Senate Bill 435 is legislation commonly known as the “cookie bill.” This legislation seeks to encourage homegrown businesses that sell home-baked and home-canned goods and was approved this week by a State Senate committee.
Information on these bills and other parts of my legislative agenda can be found on my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com. I welcome your comments and input, which you can share through my website or by calling my office at 1-800-862-1092 or 608-266-7745.