Statement from Representative Kerkman-
ASSEMBLY APPROVES “TAXPAYERS FIRST” BUDGET
Madison - On Tuesday, July 10th, the State Assembly passed its version of the 2007-09 Biennial Budget Bill. Our budget addresses our priorities of funding K-12 education and providing for the health care needs of our most vulnerable citizens, and we do so without increasing the tax burden on state residents. That’s right – the Assembly budget contains no tax increases.
In addition to K-12 funding and health care for the needy, our budget contains many welcome changes for our state’s families, businesses and retirees. Assembly budget highlights include a tax deduction for child care expenses; a three-year real property tax freeze; an expansion of the college tuition tax deduction to $6,000 per year; a tax exemption for retirement income for seniors; full funding of SeniorCare and income tax deductions for health care savings accounts; and elimination of requirements for combined tax reporting for businesses.
In stark contrast to the State Senate’s recently approved budget that contained $9.5 billion in tax increases, our plan rejects many of the provisions that were included in that house’s finished product. Some of the major changes we made included elimination of: a $1.2 billion property tax increase; the cigarette/tobacco tax increase; and the $418 million tax on hospitals that many worried would drive up health care costs. In addition, we eliminated the nursing home bed tax and the $247 million tax on oil company profits – non-partisan analysts predicted that this tax would have been passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices at the pump; and we reduced the real estate transfer fee, the so-called home tax, by 66%.
Another major difference between the two budgets is the Assembly’s elimination of the $15.2 billion per year payroll tax on employers and employees to fund the Senate’s universal health care plan. (That $15.2 billion is in addition to the $9.5 billion tax increase previously mentioned.)
A major area of concern with the budget process in recent years has been the “raiding” of dollars from funds that were established for very specific purposes and using those dollars to fill budget shortfalls. The Assembly budget rejects a $175 million transfer from the Patients Compensation Fund, as well as a $164 million transfer from the Transportation Fund.
In summary, it’s my feeling that the budget that we passed in the Assembly is a common sense, fiscally responsible plan. We fulfill our obligations without further burdening our residents with increased taxes. We do what families of the 66th District do everyday – we require the state to live within its means, or more accurately – the taxpayers’ means.