Supermajority Requirement Would Limit Options for Dealing with Deficit

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 5:45 PM by


Governor Scott Walker has asked the Legislature to focus on a handful of proposals in the special session, including a bill (SS SB and AB 5) that would require the Legislature to have a two-thirds majority to increase individual income, corporate income, and sales tax rates. The supermajority requirement would not apply if a statewide referendum approved the tax hike. Click here to see the Fiscal Bureau analysis of the bill.

The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) has issued a statement describing how the supermajority proposal would tie legislators’ hands in a time when we desperately need flexibility to deal with the state’s revenue shortfall. The size of the budget hole demands we take a balanced and responsible approach to budgeting, rather than limiting the state’s options for climbing out of the hole.

The Governor’s proposal is in the form of a bill, which at least is preferable to a constitutional amendment requiring a supermajority vote for tax increases. Rep. Kleefisch is circulating such an amendment and it would be much more restrictive than the proposed bill in several respects.

  • Putting the requirement into the Wisconsin Constitution is far more rigid;
  • The supermajority would apply to increasing fees as well; and
  • There would be no possibility for the supermajority requirement to be waived if a tax or fee increase was approved by a statewide referendum.

Although a supermajority requirement would hold down taxes on income, sales, and corporate profits, it would put upward pressure on local property taxes. “As a result, many taxpayers may not benefit much financially, while the services they rely on would almost certainly suffer,” according to WCCF.

The bottom line: Adopting a supermajority requirement is the wrong way to reform the budget process.

The complete WCCF statement is here.

Tamarine Cornelius and Jon Peacock

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