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State panel unanimously approves property tax cut bill

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Democrats called it insignificant -- but they still didn't vote no Tuesday, when the state Legislature's Joint Finance Committee endorsed the Republicans' proposed $100 million property tax cut. 

It was sent to the full Senate on a 16-0 vote, but not without some chiding from the minority party. A Senate vote was expected Tuesday afternoon, before the Assembly acts on it Thursday. 

The package reduces the local tax on the average home by $13 this year and $20 next year. 

La Crosse Senate Democrat Jennifer Shilling calls it a symbolic reduction, saying it would only pay for a half tank of gas on her drive back home. 

Republican Assembly finance chair John Nygren said some might mock what he called a "relatively modest reduction" in property taxes. Still, Nygren said it was better to give back some of the state's budget surplus than to have the government spend it. 

Some Democrats were not so sure. They said it comes at the expense of public schools and highway repairs. 

Tuesday, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau said the tax cut and other new job bills would increase a projected budget shortfall for 2015 to around $725 million -- still less than the deficits that have hounded every Legislature since 1997.