Stand up for the facts!
Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has twice vetoed a 17% tax reduction for a broad group of middle-income earners.
Although the cut was in a bill with other provisions, he also vetoed it individually and said he wouldn’t sign it on its own.
Evers stands by his original budget plan, which would have delivered more than $1 billion for low- and middle-income earners.
During a whirlwind budget and legislative season, some of what lawmakers work on can get lost in the sauce.
For instance, you may have forgotten there were multiple failed proposals this year to cut middle-class taxes, even if taxes were clearly on voters’ minds when they headed to the polls last November.
In polling before the fall 2022 election, when Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, was on the ballot, around half of registered voters said they were "very concerned" about taxes.
State Sen. Julian Bradley, R-Franklin, reminded constituents of politicians’ proposed tax cuts this year in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Dec. 8.
"Wisconsin Republicans have passed multiple billion dollar middle-class tax cuts this year, but each time we have, Governor Tony Evers has vetoed the relief," Bradley said.
His claim caught our attention, especially as we look back on the state budget and major legislative efforts at the end of 2023.
Has Evers vetoed multiple billion dollar middle-class tax cuts this year?
Yes, but there’s more to the picture.
When PolitiFact Wisconsin reached out to Bradley’s office, Communications Director Alex Walker pointed to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel articles that detailed the two times Evers vetoed a middle-class tax cut.
Twice this year, Republicans proposed cutting taxes for a broad group of middle-income earners that make between $27,630 and $304,170 as individuals and $36,840 to $405,550 as a married couple.
The income tax rate for that group would have been reduced by about 17%, from 5.3% to 4.4%, amounting to a more than $2 billion reduction over two years, a state fiscal analysis shows.
Republicans included that cut in a workforce and child care special session bill they rewrote that significantly changed Evers’ original plan.
Democrats called the rewrite "veto bait" for containing provisions the governor previously vetoed, like tightening unemployment rules.
It might be a bit of a stretch to say Evers vetoed the tax cut by citing that bill, because he couldn’t sign only that part and remove provisions he doesn’t like. But that wasn’t the case for the earlier veto Bradley’s office cited. When signing the state budget this summer, Evers used a line-item veto to specifically remove the cut for that bracket.
Along with the 17% reduction for the second-highest bracket, Evers removed a 15% cut for the highest earners — those making $405,550 or more as a couple. He kept in place reductions for the two lowest brackets.
In that veto message, Evers cited concerns that the move would reduce funding for schools, local governments and other budget priorities. He criticized the plan for focusing the most relief on the wealthiest residents.
So, it’s even fairer to say Evers vetoed the cut in the state budget, because he can use partial vetoes to remove language.
Evers has also said he would not sign stand-alone legislation that included only the tax cuts he vetoed from the state budget.
"(If) their concern now is that there isn't a big enough tax cut for the middle class, all they had to do was adopt mine to begin with," Evers said after Republicans said they’d introduce tax cuts again after his veto.
Evers was referring to his initial budget proposal, which would have provided about $1.2 billion in tax relief to low- and middle-income residents. Republicans who control the Legislature typically scrap Evers’ budget plan and write their own.
So, it isn’t that Evers is opposed to a billion dollar tax cut for the middle class, but he has so far rejected Republicans’ ideas on how to do that.
It’s also worth noting that all groups of earners, including the wide middle-class bracket, will still see some relief, just not the billions that Republicans wanted.
Under Evers’ signed budget, taxpayers will see an average decrease of $36 in 2023, compared to $573 under the GOP plan. That totals $82.9 million for 2.3 million filers, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
And Evers often notes he’s enacted income tax reductions that total $1.5 billion annually since taking office — but that might be a PolitiFact for another time.
Bradley said "Wisconsin Republicans have passed multiple billion dollar middle-class tax cuts this year, but each time we have, Governor Tony Evers has vetoed the relief."
Republicans have repeatedly pitched a 17% reduction for a wide group of earners, totaling about $2 billion over two years.
Evers vetoed a bill that contained that and other provisions, and he also removed it as an individual piece from the state budget.
Evers has, however, supported a different way to cut middle-class taxes to the tune of a billion dollars. He and Republicans just haven’t agreed on how to deliver the relief.
Bradley’s statement is accurate, but requires some additional explanation to give a full picture of what happened with tax cuts this year. We rate it Mostly True.
X, Sen. Julian Bradley, Dec. 8, 2023
Marquette Law School, Poll Table with Variable b159, 2022
Department of Revenue, Fiscal Estimate, Sept. 25, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Republicans pass workforce plan with middle-class tax cut that Evers previously vetoed, Nov. 15, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Evers vetoes $2 billion tax cut and child care credit expansion, calling proposal 'completely unserious', Nov. 20, 2023
Gov. Tony Evers, Special Session Senate Bill 1 Veto Message, Nov. 20, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gov. Tony Evers issued 51 partial vetoes to the state budget. Here's what they do., July 6, 2023
Gov. Tony Evers, Senate Bill 70 Veto Messages, July 5, 2023
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Speaker Robin Vos vows moves to restore tax cut after Tony Evers' veto. Evers promises another one., July 6, 2023
Department of Administration, Budget in Brief, February 2023
Wisconsin State Legislature, Assembly Bill 386
Wisconsin State Legislature, Senate Amendment 2 to Assembly Bill 438
Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Individual Income Tax Rate Reductions under Enrolled 2023 SB 70 and 2023 Act 1, July 7, 2023
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.