Republicans broke a more than two-month budget stalemate Wednesday, approving a property tax cut for businesses, more money for voucher school students with special needs and a new framework for regulating room rentals through websites like Airbnb.
In a series of tax changes, GOP lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee dropped several of Gov. Scott Walker’s broad tax cut proposals in favor of tax cuts for businesses and narrow groups.
The budget panel nixed Walker’s proposals to cut the income tax, put a sales tax holiday on back-to-school purchases and increase a tax credit for the working poor. Instead, Republican lawmakers voted to cut taxes on broadcasters, business equipment and the wealthy.
“It’s definitely a shift in tax policy to the wealthier (people) in the state,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). If Democrats were in charge, “we’d try to actually get it to the middle class because the middle class are the ones who actually need some help.”
The Wisconsin attorney general’s office has spent about $83,000 on promotional items since Republican Brad Schimel took office, including bags, pistol cases, candy and custom-made fortune cookies.
The Associated Press obtained invoices through an open records request that show Schimel spent $10,000 for coins emblazoned with Schimel’s “kicking ass every day” mantra. The spending also included $6,269 on messenger bags, $6,000 on pistol cases, nearly $3,200 on candy and $100 on fortune cookies containing custom messages.
Most of the items bought since January 2015 were handed out as gifts to attendees at state Department of Justice conferences.
Liberal group One Wisconsin Now also obtained the invoices through a record request. Joanna Beilman-Dulin, OWN’s research director, said in a news release titled “Attorney General Brad Schimel puts the ‘AG’ in Swag” that Schimel should spend the department’s money on fighting crime. She said thousands of Wisconsin rape kits haven’t been processed and there have been delays in testing evidence for DNA.