Senate approves property tax cut; Assembly passes mascot bill - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Senate approves property tax cut; Assembly passes mascot bill

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A $100 million dollar property tax cut is on the fast track to becoming law.

The state Senate approved it Tuesday night despite some objections that it will add to the state's deficit in the future.  Proposed just five days ago by Gov. Scott Walker, the tax cut unanimously sailed through the Joint Finance Committee Tuesday morning and then through the Senate just a few hours later.

"I think this bill's significant," said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) on the Senate floor.  "I think it's $100 million in property tax relief that will be welcome."

While most Democrats joined Republicans in supporting the tax cut, five voted against the measure, saying it would only add to the state's structural deficit.  The Legislative Fiscal Bureau now projects that deficit will grow to $725 million by 2015.  But that assumes no growth in state revenues, which Republicans say is very unlikely.  The Assembly will take up the property tax bill on Thursday. 

Representatives spent most of their time on the floor Tuesday debating a bill that would make it more difficult to force public schools to change race-based nicknames.

"You've got thousands of people screaming from the stands, something like, you know, 'slaughter the Indians' or, you know, 'slaughter the Redskins.'  You don't know, you don't know if that person sitting next to you is Native American.  Imagine how offensive that is?," said Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee), during a three-hour debate on the bill.

Under current law, one person can file an objection to a race-based nickname, mascot or logo and the Department of Public Instruction will hold a hearing, evaluate both sides, and decide whether it stays or goes.  This bill would change that by requiring a person to collect signatures from 10% of the school district's student population and then prove discrimination, not to DPI, but to the Department of Administration.

"If something is offensive, one person - such as happened in Mukwonago, shouldn't be able to go forward and say, 'that is offensive and should be removed,'" said Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), the bill's author.  "That is collectively why we looked at the signatures and have some threshold."

A majority agreed with Rep. Nass, passing the bill out of the Assembly by a vote of 52-41.  The bill now goes to the Senate.

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