July 25, 2005
Governor Jim Doyle formally signed the 2005-2007 state budget earlier today. Surprising many, the governor did not veto entirely the Republican property tax freeze, which was a three year plan limiting local governments from increasing their levies by more than their rate of growth in new construction.
The levy freeze signed into law by the governor is a two-year plan which limits the amount municipalities and counties can increase their property tax collections, or levies, from one year to the next to either 2 percent, or the added value from new construction, whichever is greater. The technical colleges and local government debt payments are excluded from the levy control. In addition to the levy freeze, Governor Doyle used his partial veto authority to increase funding to Wisconsin’s public school system significantly.
In the immediate aftermath of the budget signing, the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities publicly stated that, because Governor Doyle’s limits will make it harder for local governments to provide basic services, the Alliance will press the governor to approve Republican measures to change collective bargaining laws affecting public employees. These proposed changes include requiring arbitrators to consider the impact of contract settlement proposals on the tax levy, eliminating the requirement that arbitrators consider the pay of employees in other communities (external comparables), restricting the ability of arbitrators to award back pay, and allowing local government employers more flexibility to impose unilateral changes in areas such as health insurance.
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