Tomorrow's Assembly Ways and Means Committee meeting had an interesting last-minute addition to it, and it involves a huge business tax giveaway that you may have thought was dead.
You may remember me referencing this "economic substance" bill when they tried to jam it through a public hearing last month. At the time, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue estimated that it would cost the state up to $384 million a year, which is certainly not anything that can be done when there's only $64 million of breathing room in the budget over the next 17 months. The bill seemed to be put underground after that.
Well, it's BAAAACK! As far as I can tell, the only change is a "clarifying amendment", which apparently gives more definition over what constitutes "economic substance", but doesn't seem to change much of the actual details of the bill. According to the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions, the clarifying amendment made the fiscal effect of most of the bill as "indeterminate," and apparently that was good enough for the 6 GOP-associated members of the 9-person committee. They signed off on the bill as "appropriate public policy," while the 3 Dem-associated members voted no, and now the bill is back at the Committee level, where it can be voted on tomorrow.
Simple question- what if the DOR is right and the GOPs on the Tax Exemption survey are wrong, and this clarifying amendment doesn't prevent this from being a massive giveaway? Then this budget that already will likely need a repair bill due to the slowing economy will need to have further cuts put upon it.
Maybe we should put this thing away until there's actually room in the budget for it to fit (if it should ever be considered at all)...if there ever is room again any time in the near future.