Assembly passes Wisconsin budget with last-minute changes
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Highlights of the last-minute changes approved by the Wisconsin Assembly before passing the two-year state budget on Tuesday:
MILEAGE FEE: Any new fee on miles driven would have to be approved by the full Legislature, not just the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. The committee had originally given itself the power to institute the new fee and toll roads. A study on both the mileage fee and tolling would continue, with the state Department of Transportation making a recommendation by December 2022.
PROPERTY TAXES: Spend more on a credit to reduce the increase in property taxes for the owner of a $174,000 median-valued home by $5 over the next two years. Under Gov. Tony Evers’ original plan, and the proposal advanced by the budget committee, property taxes would have increased $105 over two years. Under the GOP change, they would go up $99. That is a 2% increase in the first year and 1.6% in the second.
STOPPING VETOES: Replacing the phrases “may not” and “shall not” with “cannot” throughout the budget. That would make it more difficult for Evers to use his partial veto authority to undo the will of the Legislature by striking out one word.
TESLA DEALERS: The electric-car manufacturer Tesla would be able to open its own dealerships in the state to sell and service the vehicles. That gives them an exemption from current law, which does not allow car manufacturers to own dealerships. This was a priority for Republican state Sen. Chris Kapenga, one of the GOP lawmakers who had the power to block the budget in the Senate.
ROADS: Give towns an additional $5 million for road repairs and projects.
PROSECUTORS: Spend $3.5 million more to increase salaries for assistant district attorneys and spend $3.6 million to add 35 more assistant district attorneys across the state.
GROUNDWATER: Deletes provisions in the finance committee’s version of the budget that would have created a $3 million grant program for testing and remediating polluted private wells.