Wisconsin Senate Passes 2 Jobs Related Bills With Huge Bipartisan Votes
WISCONSINREPORT.COM (10/18/2011) - Wisconsin Senate Republicans and Democrats voted nearly unanimously to pass two job-creation measures, which the leader of the Republican majority says are aimed at improving the state's business climate. Senator Scott Fitzgerald also claims Democrats are in Attack Mode and suggests political rhetoric doesn't create jobs. However, Democrats heavily supported passing the two Senate Bills, suggesting both sides of the political fence may be getting down to the business of passing legislation for the public good rather than just bickering.
“Wisconsin needs jobs. Republicans in the Senate have promised that would be our top priority, and today we’re putting action behind those words,” said Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), the Senate Majority Leader.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 5 on an overwhelming 32-1 vote, which doubles the funds available for the state’s Jobs Tax Credit to $10 million per year, and moves up the payment date to eliminate unnecessary delays.
The Jobs Tax Credit has proven to be an effective tool for promoting job creation in Wisconsin and recruiting new business, but the funding has been limited by the $5 million cap, according to Senator Fitzgerald.
The Senate also voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 203, which establishes a state tax exemption for some employee reimbursements. Federal law gives a tax exemption for employee reimbursements to workers who are providing medical care for a dependent up to the age of 27, but there is currently no state match of that exemption. This creates an unnecessary red-tape and tax burden for more than 15,000 Wisconsin families; this bill provides a state exemption to match the federal one and eliminate that burden.
“We’re making real progress during tough times – the decisions we’re making in Madison will have an impact in the real world," Senator Fitzgerald said.
Even though both of the Senate Bills passed with bi-partisan support represented by the vote totals, the top Republican in the Wisconsin Senate couldn't resist getting in a partisan comment:
"The Democrats are clearly in ‘attack mode,’ but political rhetoric simply doesn’t create jobs," Senator Fitzgerald said. "We’re putting action behind our words, and all the Democrats are offering is more politics.”
Senate Bill 5, which passed the Senate 32 to 1, was co-authored by Republican State Senator Alberta Darling, who had won the recall effort in Democrats attempt to remove her from the Senate a few months ago.
State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) says the bill will help increase the chance of new businesses to pick Wisconsin when they're looking for someplace to locate.
Wisconsin State Senators, Republican and Democrat, overwhelmingly approved the measure to double the amount of tax credits available to job creators if they create jobs in the state. The lead senate author of the bill, Senator Darling says the bill is another sign to companies that Wisconsin is open for business.
"When companies look to expand and grow, we want them to look at Wisconsin," Darling said, "Tax credits for job creation are a great way to make our state competitive and encourage businesses to choose our great state to set-up shop," Senator Darling said.
Senate Bill 5 would double the amount of credits available for job creators to earn from $5 million to $10 million a year. The bill also includes 10% reimbursement for training costs of new employees.
Darling says, according to The Milwaukee 7, an economic development group, tax credits have already helped keep jobs in the state. In 2010, tax credits helped spur an expansion by Quad/Graphics that lead to 1,300 jobs staying in the state instead of going to Oklahoma or West Virginia. Senator Darling says this legislation will help companies plan for a future that includes Wisconsin.
"Tax credits work and they get the attention of businesses that are looking at expanding," Darling said, "By doubling the credit available, we are opening up even more opportunities for companies to pick Wisconsin."
Senator Darling represents portions of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha Counties.
The other bill passed by the Wisconsin Senate is aimed at making it possible for more than 15,000 Wisconsin families to take another step towards avoiding an unexpected tax increase. Senate Bill 203, authored by Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Representative Pat Strachota (R-West Bend), exempts health care coverage for adult dependent children from a parent’s income.
“This was a hidden tax that many employees and employers were unaware of that would have been a burden on Wisconsin families and businesses at year end,” Wanggaard said. “As legislators, we need to lower the tax burden at this time, not raise taxes unexpectedly on our struggling citizens.”
Wisconsin is currently the only state in the nation that requires the value of health insurance coverage provided to many adult dependents to be reported as income on an employee’s W-2. Both Wisconsin and the federal government require health insurance companies to cover dependent children until they reach age 26 under most circumstances, although state and federal laws passed at different times and in different forms which created a confusing situation for employers and employees alike.
Senate Bill 203 is designed to prevent Wisconsin from becoming a tax island for the purposes of what is known as “imputed income” and aligns state and federal laws.
“This had the potential to be an administrative nightmare for Wisconsin employers,” said Wanggaard. “An employer would be taking a shot in the dark trying to determine the value of this nebulous mandated benefit."
"Rather than spending resources to update payroll systems and hire consultants to comply with this law, employers can now spend those resources growing jobs in Wisconsin,”
Senator Wangaard added.
Senate Bill 203 passed the Senate on a unanimous 33-0 vote. It now moves to the Assembly, where it is expected to pass next week.
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