Wheelercast – Ways and Means, WEDC, Mining

Episode #21.

Gwyn and Brian start this week’s podcast talking about the mining bill.  Gwyn highlights the amendments and the plans for passage in the Senate. Northern WI legislators say this could be a huge jobs opportunity.

Rep. Macco announced committee changes in the Assembly Ways and Means Cmte.  New subcommittees coming and a “deep dive” into taxation in Wisconsin.

From Wed, Nov. 1 Wheeler Report: 

Rep. John Macco has announced that the Assembly Ways and Means Committee is creating four subcommittees. Those subcommittees will include:
  • Personal and Corporate Taxes – Chaired by Rep. Kulp
  • Local Taxation and State Support – Chaired by Rep. Steffen
  • Sales and Use Tax – Chaired by Rep. Peterson
  • Excise Taxes and Fees – Chaired by Rep. Zimmerman
Each subcommittee will have three members, two Republicans and one Democrat. The subcommittees will have the same rules for committee notices and open records, but the committee will report to the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Macco. Speaker Vos has appointed the following new members to the committee: Reps. Hutton, Kulp, Zimmerman and Spreitzer.
In an interview with The Wheeler Report, Rep. Macco said he has been looking at taxes in Wisconsin for over three years. First as a freshman legislature when he talked with Rep. Paul Ryan who was on the budget committee on Congress, then as vice-chair of Ways and Means, and now as chair of Ways and Means. Macco emphasized that the committee purpose does not change.  Macco said expenditures are the responsibility of the Joint Finance Committee, but said Wisconsin needs to visit its tax structure and the Ways and Means Committee is the place to determine the correct way to determine the appropriate amount and the best form of revenue for the state. Macco discussed the vulnerabilities of the state’s current tax structure saying that during times of recession and expansion the state is subject to big swings, but by bringing Wisconsin’s tax code into the 21st Century the Ways and Means Committee has the opportunity to provide options for more consistent revenue.
Congress is currently looking at a tax reform package and Macco said if Wisconsin doesn’t review and update its tax structure, Wisconsin citizens could be big losers and end up paying more than citizens in other states. Macco was quick to say that the biggest obstacle moving forward will be special interest lobbyists, saying he expects that within days of the committees starting action every lobbyist that has a special exemption or credit will be lobbying to make sure they stay.  Macco said Wisconsin’s tax structure has been driven by special interests in the past and that’s why the structure is so difficult to change.  Macco wants everything to be on the table, saying if everything is considered and everyone pays their portion everyone has to pay less.
Macco said he has spoken with Gov. Walker’s office about the committee structure changes and his goals to reform the tax structure because he doesn’t want it to be an adversarial issue with the Governor. Macco said he has had discussions with Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald and a few other senators.
Macco closed the interview by saying Wisconsin needs to have the courage to understand and reform the tax process in Wisconsin.  Macco emphasized that he wanted the process to be comprehensive, saying it would take time and work, but said it needs to be done.

 Finally, Gwyn and Brian talk about the changes to the WEDC board and the final approval expected this week to the Foxconn contract.