Typical Madison property taxpayers would see roughly twice as much tax relief as the state average under a bill moving quickly through the state Legislature.

The average $25 savings on property tax bills that would reach homeowners in December would come from the Madison School District’s receiving about $2.3 million in additional state aid as part of $100 million in property tax relief over two years proposed by Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislative leaders.

The tax cut package — which passed the state Senate on a bipartisan 28-5 vote Tuesday night after unanimously passing the Legislature’s budget committee that morning — would contribute to a much larger structural deficit for the state heading into the 2015-17 budget.

The deficit would rise to

$725 million compared with the current projected $545 million, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The structural deficit is the amount that expenditures are expected to exceed revenues during a given budget cycle.

That figure factors in better-than-expected revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30. It also accounts for the two-year,

$100 million property tax relief proposal, which would boost state funding to schools overall while forcing most districts to compensate by lowering property taxes.

Statewide, the typical property owner would save about $13 on the December bill and $20 the following year, according to the fiscal bureau.

The average tax cut varies between districts because the relief is being distributed through the state’s complicated school aid formula, which is designed to distribute state aid equitably based on property values and school spending levels.

The average home value also varies around the state. In Madison, it’s $230,831, compared with $148,000 statewide, though a $148,000 home in Madison would still get about $16 in relief.

The tax cut also could vary depending on whether a school district is already collecting the maximum amount of taxes under state-imposed revenue limits. Districts such as Madison could spend the additional aid on schools; however, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said Tuesday she intends to use the additional aid for tax relief.

“When we started our budget process, we received the largest possible cut in state aid, over $8 million,” Cheatham said. “I’m pleased that this funding will make up a portion of that cut and help us accomplish what has been one of our goals all along: to reduce the impact of a large cut in state aid on our taxpayers.”

Madison’s preliminary budget proposal would have raised the tax levy 4.5 percent; the tax relief package would cut that to about 3.5 percent, Cheatham said.

The fiscal bureau on Tuesday released an analysis of the district-by-district impact of the additional aid for 2013-14.

According to the analysis, all but three of the state’s 424 school districts would get more state aid. But 83 districts would get $1,000 or less, and altogether 295 districts would get an increase of less than 1 percent.

Madison and Middleton-Cross Plains are among the top 10 districts in terms of percent increase of aid from the bill. Madison’s increase would be 4.6 percent. Middleton would get $570,272, a 6.2 percent increase.

The bill is expected to be taken up Thursday in the Assembly, where Speaker Robin Vos applauded its bipartisan support.

“It shows once again that in Wisconsin, Republicans and Democrats can work together and do it in a way that benefits all Wisconsin families,” said Vos, R-Rochester.

When asked about the structural deficit, Vos said it’s “an important number, but not the one driving this discussion.”

Walker spokesman Tom Evenson noted the projected structural deficit is still the lowest in more than 15 years. “Even with this tax relief, the deficit is projected to be wiped out with only modest growth in revenue in the 2015-17 biennium,” he said.

Democrats, many of whom voted for the bill, nevertheless criticized Republicans for patting themselves on the back for such a tiny tax cut.

“That’s going to be half a tank of gas for me to get back to La Crosse,” Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said. “Really it is symbolic.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said Tuesday she supports lowering taxes but is concerned about the long-term effects of the property tax cut on the structural deficit.

UW-Madison economist Andrew Reschovsky also said that in Madison, more than a third of the break would go to owners of non-residential property. Weathy homeowners and those with vacation property also would benefit, he said.

“The governor could have chosen to use the $100 million to target property tax relief to those homeowners (and perhaps renters) for whom the property tax was most burdensome,” Reschovsky said. “But he chose not to.”

Democrats also accused the GOP of passing the measure to boost Republicans’ re-election hopes.

Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, accused Republicans of “pandering for a press release” and said the tax break with do nothing for most taxpayers. Jauch said the money should instead go to the state’s rainy day fund.

But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he was proud to stand behind the bill.

“It is about re-election, because that’s the way the process works,” Fitzgerald said. “You do things that put the state in a better position, so that the general public thinks you’re working, doing a good job and keeping the state on track and making good decisions that put the state in a great fiscal position.”

— Reporter Mary Spicuzza and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Matthew DeFour covers state government for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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(32) comments


With these predictions of deficit, what the hell does the gov think he can run on should he chose to run for president?. He will get eaten alive by the other candidates.


Funny thing (NOT funny, actually) is that while Madison is getting their state aid increased by $2.3 million, here in La Crosse our school district is getting its state aid CUT by an almost identical amount ($2.4 million).

With all due respect to my friends in Madison (and a family member who works for the school district), I think Madison can better afford to live without the aid increase better than La Crosse can afford the cut. Something is screwed up with the aid formula.

Brucee Eggum
Brucee Eggum

Why do we pay for Madison Wisconsin Tax Break?
“Madison would receive $2.3 million in additional state aid this year as part of a two-year $100 million property tax relief proposal moving quickly toward approval.”

I live in rural Wisconsin. We do not have the high population like Madison and our taxes are high because they are not distributed over a large population.We need tax relief ourselves.Madison with high population surely does not need “additional state aid”. I suggest if Madison wants less tax they should examine their expenses and salaries. The city of Madison and suburbs administration is responsible for the tax of Madison and we rural folks should not be paying taxes for Madison. Bruce Eggum Gresham, Wisconsin.


It would be interesting, Brucee, to know how much your county actually pays in vs. how much you get, from other people's taxes. If it is typical, you are not paying for Madison in that case, they are actually subsidizing YOU.

I doubt you really know what the true costs for your area are, and how much of your revenue goes towards it. But it makes you feel justifed in suppport of this so, you will spout any nonsense that makes sense to you.

Mr Mellow

This ain't about Madison or La Crosse or Gresham or someplace else in Badgerland.

The decision to use the school aid formula was made by Walker, and approved by the GOP dominated Assembly and Senate. If anyone has a problem with how much or how little their district or they themselves receive, take it up with the Republicans.


For $100 million, Walker simply bought the right to crow "I reduced property taxes!" in the next election debates. Wisconsin, your soul is worth more than $13.


Exactly. Walker is doing the equivilient of a cheap date night. Only the low information will find any respect or concern for the taxpayers actual well being in this.

So, enjoy the can being kicked, and the date at Burger King, because it will be very brief. And of course you will forget all about it later, because it made you feel so good now to be cuddled and told what a speical thing this is.


The damage this Governor has done to the state and its people will cost billions of dollars to repair. He thinks the people of Wisconsin can simply be bought like this? I don't think so!


We ALL know this is another gimmick by the Governor as we approach the election year.

He has divided our state like no one before could.

He FAILED to create the 250,000 jobs he promised the voters of Wisconsin.

He has launched attacks on women who comprise 50% of the state's population.

He has reduced benefits for the poor even more.

He has made it harder for people to vote.

He has advanced the rights of landlords at the expense of tenants.

He has caused great damage to Northern Wisconsin's environment.

He has


He did the exact same thing in Milwaukee, he borrowed the money to make himself look good in the present.


So $13 is the price of a vote these days ?


Just go back through this blog and replace every reference to "Walker" with "Obama"....you would see that Progressives are every bit as "radical" and even more than Teaparty groups!!!

Mr Mellow

Only in your dreams (whether sleeping or awake).


Talk about smoke and mirrors. Walker, Vos and the boys are simply building an even larger structural deficit. These guys found money we don't have quicker than Tommy Thompson. As it turns out we really dont have a surplus. We have a growing deficit. If we did have a surplus it should all go to the rainy day fund.


Talk about smoke and mirrors. Walker, Vos and the boys are simply building an even larger structural deficit. These guys found money we don't have quicker than Tommy Thompson. As it turns out we really dont have a surplus. We have a growing deficit. If we did have a surplus it should all go to the rainy day fund.


This is symbolism politics. Nothing more.


This is good news, however I don't trust the school board in giving that money back to us. I'll believe it when it's in my pocket. I like the fact that it's progressive so the more you pay the more you're going to save. That's got to have the dems all twisted up since the people who pay nothing won't get any "relief".


The people who you think don't pay, do pay rent.
The landlords will not choose to rebate a dime to any tenant.
So, you are right. Your "enemies" will not receive any relief.
The folks who need it the most.
I am sure you will pray for them when you go to church on Sunday.


Maybe the landlords will have a pizza party for their tenants. At least the ones that pay property taxes. Not the landlords that have housing that's tax exempt.

Church? That's a gas. I can't remember the last time I was in a church. I don't subscribe to that viewpoint and I don't complain about it like so many others. I just wish they would pay property taxes.


Thank you, Governor Walker for reversing the upward spiraling tax and spend policies of Doyle and Thompson. $25 isn't much, but it's the first step in the right direction.


@ Lionhear
This may well be 3 years in a row without an increase. Quite a change from the double-digit increases of previous years.


So, the the bottom line here appears to be that because of previous budget cuts, this does little to avoid the shortfall, one percent 'sworth to be exact.

In return, the state gets higher deficits for the medium term, in exchange for pocket change in the immediate future. This will require eventually taking away more than you gave, but the current legislature and the governor may already have comfortable outside employment by the time anyone notices.

Enjoy taking the family out to Burger King for lunch on this. Those GOP'ers really know how to deliver, eh?


People outside Madison, especially those who have supported Governor Walker in the past, should be OUTRAGED that the Governor is giving Madison more money in tax cuts. They should feel slighted and vote to vote him out in 2014.


He doesn't have to 'buy' those folks outside of Madison.

Mr Mellow

You're so right. Walker's 250,000 new jobs all went to those folks outside of Madison.
That (and the Burger King lunch-size prop tax refund) is why they love him so. NOT.


In order to buy votes in Madison, Walker has to give the state employees a pay raise.
One that is higher than the price of the additional health insurance premiums


1,100 square feet of condo...$2600 of property taxes...$33 in property tax savings?...ummm...who gives a sh$t...wow GOP lawmakers you get a sticker for being super today?!


I would much rather see these clowns actually do something productive when they call a special session rather than give me back $13 and debate on indian mascots, speed limits and whether to legalize pepper spray. Such a laser like focus on jobs. (SIGH)


I would much rather see these clowns actually do something productive when they call a special session rather than give me back $13 and debate on indian mascots, speed limits and whether to legalize pepper spray. Such a laser like focus on jobs. (SIGH)


I can't wait to spend that 13 bucks!!!!


didn't the state Republicans just borrow $2 Billion? (to "balance" the budget)


Call Da Guv'Na and ask him CC. On another note, has anybody but me noticed Walker is not traveling as much, raising money? Either he is doing it from the Guv'Na's office or he knows being Prez is a pipe dream.

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