For more than a decade, MMAC has been working to find ways to restructure our state and local tax system in a way that encourages economic growth. For nearly a year now, we have been facilitating discussions with county and municipal leaders throughout Milwaukee County on ways we might make progress toward that goal locally. The Move Forward MKE proposal, announced today with support from MMAC, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb and the mayors of every municipality in Milwaukee County, was a major step toward that goal.
Specifically, the proposal announced today would ask the legislature for permission to hold a Milwaukee County referendum over whether to reduce property taxes on the median home by over 10% by adding an additional penny to the County sales tax (actual property tax reductions will vary from 11% to 18% depending on the municipality of residence). The proposal would accomplish this by statutorily requiring that one quarter of all revenues raised by the additional percentage on the sales tax must go to property tax reduction. The remaining funds would be allocated to Milwaukee County and the municipalities within the county for local needs that could range everywhere from public safety and parks to deferred capital maintenance and debt reduction; from cultural assets to lead contamination abatement; and so on. Instead of continuing the all too familiar arguments between different levels of government over who is to blame for our region’s fiscal challenges, Move Forward MKE aims for a fresh start that ends the blame game and enables us to take more responsibility locally for addressing those challenges.
The Move Forward MKE plan is only the 3rd time in the last 26 years that MMAC has backed any sort of general tax increase proposal, so we do not take this position lightly. We believe support for this proposal is appropriate at this time for several reasons:
Milwaukee County and its municipalities, are home to 60% of the metro area jobs, generating income and wealth for the entire Southeastern Wisconsin Region. It is the only county that is a net exporter of personal income. Jobs in Milwaukee County export $7.6B of personal income to residents living in surrounding counties. A stronger, more viable Milwaukee economy benefits the entire region and state. The goal of this proposal is to give Milwaukee the ability to invest in the future of its citizens by creating a sustainable and balanced local funding source. All while keeping the metro area cost competitive.
As noted, this is only the 3rd time in 26 years we have pursued a general tax increase to respond to the challenges faced in our community. We believe we are at a fiscal inflection point that justifies pursuing a new way to move Milwaukee forward with a more balanced fiscal structure and make the investments necessary to keep metro Milwaukee a region of choice
To learn more about today’ announcement click here to view the Aid Distribution Chart, or the Net Impact by Municipality Chart. Keep an eye on the MMAC calendar for informational events we will be hosting around this proposal for members in the coming weeks.