Two years ago, a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and community leaders formed to launch Move Forward MKE. The group’s main goal was to ask the state government to allow Milwaukee to raise its sales tax, giving the city and county more money to work with in the future.
While Wisconsin has high property taxes, they have one of the lowest sales taxes in the U.S. — sixth lowest among the 115 largest U.S. cities. By increasing the sales tax in Milwaukee by one cent, the city would bring in an estimated $160 million every year.
As the Wisconsin Policy Forum has found in a previous report, an increase in finances for Milwaukee would do wonders, particularly when it comes to basic infrastructure, as noted by opinion columnist Dan Shafer.
Unfortunately, an increase in the sales tax isn’t up to Milwaukee. The way Wisconsin law works, local governments need permission from the state government to even get these changes onto the ballot.
While Gov. Tony Evers (D) supports these measures, the Republican-run State Legislature has created a road block for the city. This means Milwaukee will continue to rely heavily on revenue from property taxes — 96% of total local revenue, in fact.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley (D) stated in his State of the County address that Wisconsin needs to increase its sales tax to provide residents with better investments and to maintain and sustain Milwaukee’s growing costs.
Ultimately, the decision to block an increase in Milwaukee’s sales tax by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other Wisconsin Republicans is damaging to the future success of Milwaukee.