Rebecca Kleefisch makes the case for Walker’s ‘blueprint’
Huebsch: Structural deficit talk is ‘disingenuous’

By Arthur Thomas - Freeman Staff

Feb. 5, 2014

(From left) Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch answers a question as Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch looks on Tuesday afternoon at The Freeman’s office Tuesday afternoon.  Don Weltzien/Special to The Freeman

WAUKESHA - Wisconsin Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on Tuesday touted Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to use $911 million in increased revenues largely for income and property tax cuts, saying all economic indicators were headed in the right direction and “it’s time to give back the change.”

“It’s not rose-colored glasses, it’s a really rosy forecast,” Kleefisch said during a meeting with The Freeman staff, adding that the governor’s plan would offer people certainty and security.

Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity, unveiled during his State of the State address last month, includes $406 million in property tax cuts, nearly $100 million in income tax cuts, an adjustment to the payroll tax withholding tables, a deposit of $100 million to the rainy day fund and $35 million in investments in workforce development programs.

Kleefisch was not quick to comment on the possible political advantages of passing tax cuts in an election year.

“If you say so,” she said when asked if it was a good thing.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch discusses current state issues at The Freeman’s office Tuesday afternoon.   
Don Weltzien/Special to The Freeman

Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, who joined Kleefisch at The Freeman’s office, was quick to say that certainly was a positive.

“Absolutely, there’s no question, obviously when you’re going to go and face the voters again, you want to be able to say things are going right, and Gov. Walker can do that,” Huebsch said, maintaining the decision to use the surplus for income and property tax cut was in response to feedback from residents of the state.

Kleefisch acknowledged that when the state passed a property tax cut last fall and used the school funding formula to deliver it, the results were a bit uneven, meaning some communities benefited more than others.

“We want to make it more even,” she said, noting the cut is being distributed through the technical colleges this time.

The income tax cut is focused on the lowest tax bracket, which Kleefisch said was because the administration “didn’t want to leave anybody behind.”

Both Kleefisch and Huebsch said they were happy with the amount of money Walker’s plan would put toward workforce development.

“The biggest infusion we can make into our job creation, our economic development, our economy, is through tax cuts, through infusing people’s pocketbooks with more of their own money,” Kleefisch said.

“There’s always places that people can figure out to spend it in Madison,” Huebsch added. “The state didn’t win the lottery, we just have more money coming in because the economy is growing. Let’s make sure it stays with the people who earned it.”

Huebsch tried to clear up concerns about using the increased revenues for tax cuts instead of addressing a projected structural deficit.

“If you have a mortgage, you have a structural deficit,” Huebsch said, arguing that both amount to a commitment to pay money without regard to future income.

In the state’s case, the salary would be projected economic growth. Huebsch said if the state sees growth equal to the average of the last 10 years, there would actually have a surplus.

“I’ve seen it politicized so many times,” he said, adding that it is “disingenuous” to raise concerns about the structural deficit in opposition to Walker’s plan.

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Email: athomas@conleynet.com