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Finance committee to hold hearing, vote on Republican tax cut plan

MADISON — Republican lawmakers are set to begin a last-minute push to pass a $250 million income tax cut plan Monday with a public hearing and vote in the Legislature’s powerful finance committee.

Approval would clear the way for floor votes in the Senate on Wednesday and in the Assembly on Thursday, during its last floor period of the two-year legislative session. The Senate is expected to convene for its last floor period in March.

Republicans introduced the plan on Friday. It calls for increasing the standard deduction for income tax filers, resulting in an average reduction of $106 for most filers in Wisconsin. Married couples filing jointly would see an average cut of $145. All other filers would see an average reduction of $81. The cut would affect about 64% of all filers or about 2 million people.

The plan would also reduce taxes for manufacturers by nearly $45 million by exempting their machinery and tools from property taxes and trim general state debt by $100 million.

Republicans would pay for the plan by tapping the state’s projected $620 million budget surplus.

Republicans control the Assembly and Senate, making passage all but certain. It’s unclear where Democratic Gov. Tony Evers stands on the proposal, however. His spokeswoman, Britt Cudaback, declined to comment on whether the governor would sign any part of the plan.

Evers has proposed spending $130 million to cut property taxes as part of a $250 million school funding plan. The governor earlier this month called the Legislature into special session to consider the plan but Assembly Republicans refused to cooperate, saying they’ll revisit school funding when they put together the next state budget.

Democrats have assailed the GOP income tax cut plan as hastily conceived in the waning days of the session, and ripped Republicans for ignoring schools’ needs.

Republicans also are pushing a pair of bills that would cut taxes for Wisconsin farmers by $30 million annually. The GOP introduced the bills after Evers put out an $8.5 million package of agriculture proposals. The governor’s plan didn’t include any tax cuts, however. The Assembly could take up those bills this week.

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