Saturday, December 23, 2023

A neutered Robbin' Vos is trying damage control for 2024

Days before his precious gerrymander got struck down, Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos made the rounds with state media, and was acting like someone who realized he didn't have a free ride to power any more.

Current state law bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, but Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Wednesday that he hopes to put a proposal on some future ballot that would lower the limit to somewhere between the 12th and 15th week.

“It’s probably the only way for us to put this issue to rest,” he told The Associated Press. “It has the idea of saying we're letting the people decide.”...

For a new abortion law to be put before voters, the proposal would first have to be passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. It could then be placed on the ballot in a statewide election as a binding referendum. Wisconsin law does not allow voters to place questions on the ballot, and Republicans who control the Legislature have previously rejected Evers' calls to create a way for voters to repeal the 1849 abortion ban.
Yeah, I don't think Governor Evers is going to be OK with having restrictions that go beyond what we had under Roe v. Wade. But the fact that Vos is even floating this cynical idea tells you that the GOP knows they are still flailing about in the post- Dobbs Wisconsin.

And now that his tax cuts for the rich keep getting shot down, Vos is trying to make an image of "compromise", bringing a tax cut for older Wisconsinites back onto the agenda. So let’s go back to whent aht idea originally was suggested by Legislative Republicans last Summer, given that what will come up in the next months will be similar.
The proposal, co-authored by Rep. David Steffen of Green Bay and Sen. Rachael Cabral-Guevara of Appleton, introduce[d] new optional retirement income tax exemptions for Wisconsin taxpayers 67 or older. Individual filers would be exempt from paying taxes on the first $100,000 of annual retirement income, while married and joint filers would see a tax exemption for the first $150,000.

Retirement income taxes would be completely eliminated for over 98% of all taxpayers age 67 or older, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimate provided by Steffen's office in July.
Sounds good on the surface, and Vos’s contention is that this would encourage more seniors to stay in and/or locate in Wisconsin, overcoming our cold winters and other disadvantages that we may have with other states.

However, let’s also remember that this is targeted at “retirement income”, which is basically pensions, IRAs and 401ks. Social Security payments and military retirement pensions are already exempt from Wisconsin income taxes, and a sizable amount of IRA and 401k distributions are already written off in this state before we even expand any retiree tax cut.
Current state law allows individuals 65 or older with federal adjusted gross income under $15,000 or married and joint filers under $30,000 to claim a $5,000 exemption on retirement income in certain accounts….

An August memo from the [Wisconsin Department of Revenue] estimated the retirement tax cut proposed in July would decrease state revenue by about $54 million in the 2024 fiscal year and $362 million annually beginning in fiscal year 2025. That cost could climb to $420 million annually beginning in 2025 if married joint filers are allowed to claim an exemption after only one spouse reaches 67 years old.
But maybe some kind of modification can be made where we up the exemption on 401k-IRA-pension income to $25,000 and $50,000, to adjust for inflation, higher property taxes, and other items, but also doesn’t give a giant windfall to rich Boomers while reducing the ability for the state to make investments for everyone.

Other news from Vos’ year-end series of media appearances, included this.

In other words…

This is why I don’t buy polls that claim Republicans might have the upper hand, especially in Wisconsin. If Robbin’ Vos is going out of his way to back off this power grab and making noises about passing medical (non-smokable) marijuana legislation, the GOPs are in big trouble for 2024.

And that’s the biggest takeaway we should have from this lame attempt by Vos to seem reasonable in these year-end interviews. It’s damage control, and WisDems should use this as a reason to pound that dweeb even more. Especially now that they have a real chance to boot Vos and his fellow Republicans out of power next November.

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