Reps in the News: Feb. 21-28

Representative Joel Kitchens

Rep. Joel Kitchens supported Republican proposal to use the state’s anticipated budget surplus for property tax relief, rather than for education funding proposed by Gov. Tony Evers. 

“As a state legislature, we believe the most responsible thing to do is reduce our debt and return the surplus back to taxpayers who were charged more than what our state actually needed,” Kitchens said. 

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, tax collections for this biennium are currently exceeding expectations by $818 million. By law, the state is required to transfer 50 percent of any surplus into the Budget Stabilization Fund. That would bring the state’s “rainy-day account” to nearly $950 million, the largest in state history. 

Kitchens siad the plan proposed by the state Assembly would put $250 million toward the reduction of middle-class income taxes by changing the standard deduction tables. Roughly $45 million would go to decrease personal property taxes, and $100 million would be used to pay off debt. The tax cuts would start in the 2020 tax year, and the average income-tax filer would see a $105 tax reduction.

Source: Kitchens e-newsletter

Governor Tony Evers

Gov. Evers’ office released a statement regarding Assembly Republicans’ announcement regarding the use of an expected budget surplus.

“The governor’s education plan provides an opportunity for Assembly Republicans to deliver on their promise to get to two-thirds funding for our schools before they take an eight-month vacation, while still providing $130 million to help reduce property taxes across our state,” said Evers spokesperson Britt Cudaback.

“Unfortunately, Assembly Republicans made it clear today that they would rather break their promise to the people of our state than work together on funding our schools and reducing property taxes in Wisconsin.”

Source: Evers press release

Senator Ron Johnson

U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Jacky Rosen introduced the Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act of 2020: legislation to advance America’s place in 5G development by strengthening U.S. leadership in international standards-setting bodies for 5G networks.

“Winning the race to 5G is one of America’s top economic and national security priorities,” Johnson said. “It is critical that the U.S. take the lead in developing standards to ensure 5G network security and maintain U.S. competitiveness in wireless connectivity and innovation. If we as a nation do not lead on this issue, China will fill the void. This legislation will help ensure [that] we don’t concede leadership to China as 5G technology continues to develop.”

Source: Johnson press release

President Donald Trump

The Trump administration notified Congress that it plans to divert $3.8 billion from the Defense Department’s budget to build the border wall, including $101 million that had been slated for Oshkosh Defense to build heavy wheeled defense vehicles. This is in addition to more than $11 billion that’s already been identified to construct more than 500 miles of new barriers along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. That includes money that Congress has appropriated and funding that was previously diverted from military construction and counternarcotic operations.

The latest funding diversion takes $1.5 billion originally allocated for buying equipment for National Guard and Reserve units, such as trucks, generators and spare parts, as well as fighter jets and ships.

This administration said the diversion of funds was in support of “higher priority items” that were “necessary in the national interest,” according to the notice transmitted to Congress.

The move drew bipartisan criticism, including from the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry.

“The wall should be funded, but the funding must come through the Department of Homeland Security rather than diverting critical military resources that are needed and in law,” Thornberry said in a statement.

He added that Congress must act and is weighing how to proceed.

Sources: WPR, Sen. Tammy Baldwin press release