Local & State Priorities
Since 1861, MMAC has been actively involved in legislative efforts and has played a significant role in shaping the economic landscape of the region. These legislative efforts have aimed to promote business-friendly environments, attract investment and create job opportunities for all.
2023 has turned into a banner year for those efforts.
A number of measures within the recently signed state budget, represent years of the organization’s relentless advocacy for policy impacting a more dynamic regional and state-wide business climate.
City of Milwaukee/Milwaukee County Sales Tax
- A new 2 percent sales tax for the city of Milwaukee
- An additional .4 percent sales tax for Milwaukee County
The city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County were facing a fiscal cataclysm. As one of the few major metros in the country without the ability to levy a local sales tax, they were hamstrung in finding new revenue streams to fund essential services – like public safety – and crippling pension liabilities.
MMAC worked with a bipartisan group of state and local leadership, local business leaders and other stakeholders to reach a compromise agreement that will spare both local bodies from falling off a fiscal cliff.
The city of Milwaukee has voted to enact a 2 percent sales tax which will go into effect in 2024. Milwaukee will vote later this month to enact a .4 percent sales tax.
Increased State Shared Revenue
For generations, state government would exclusively levy income and sales taxes, leaving local governments to collect property taxes. In exchange, the state would share a portion of income and sales taxes it collected with local municipalities. That shared revenue was frozen by the state legislature starting in 2000, leaving local municipalities to deal with shortfalls and ensuing cuts to essential services. The city of Milwaukee reduced its workforce by 1,000 since that freeze was implemented; Milwaukee County has reduced staffing by nearly half.
Under new shared revenue guidelines, both the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County will see a 10 percent increase in shared revenue in the coming years.
- Increased funding for students in choice and charter schools
As part of a $1 billion investment in education, this year’s state budget will increase per-pupil spending for choice and charter school students and narrow the gap between these schools and their public school counterparts.
Charter school students will see their vouchers go from $9,264 to $11,366 annually; choice schools will see student vouchers raised from $8,399 to $9,874 in grades K-8 and from $9,045 to $12,368 in high school.
Personal Property Tax
Even prior to Wisconsin becoming a state, businesses were faced with a burdensome cost come filing time – the personal property tax. This cost taxed business owners on all goods owned not considered land or buildings.
After nearly 200 years in existence, and much lobbying from the MMAC, this onerous tax was repealed in this year’s state budget.
Extension of the Manufacturing Tax Credit
Since 2011, manufacturers filing their taxes with the state have counted on the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit to receive a 7.5% credit for all eligible production activities. In one budget proposal this year, that tax credit would have been eliminated. MMAC worked with state legislators to keep this business-friendly tax credit in place.
R&D Tax Credit Increase
Companies will see a significant incentive to increase research and development activities under a new tax incentive. This measure in the budget will increase the research and development tax credit from 15 percent to 25 percent starting in 2024.
Data Center sales tax exemption
As part of the state budget, a sales tax exemption was created for activities directly related to data centers. This includes the sale of computer servers and networking equipment; substations providing uninterrupted energy equipment and supplies; backup generation equipment and other components.
Measures to curb costs for those operating data centers create a welcoming environment for tech companies providing cloud services to their customers. Similar measures in other states have spurred billions in economic development. This tax exemption is key in staying competitive with neighboring states for those dollars.