Both aged cheese and bad public policy can stink. The joint finance committee has managed to create a real stench by combining the two in this state budget. Provisions in the budget as amended by the joint finance committee redefine warehouses that age cheese. They will no longer be considered to be in the storage business and instead will be classified as manufacturers. This will allow them an exemption from property tax on any machinery or equipment involved. More significantly it will allow them to qualify for the manufacturing tax credit. This tax credit, passed in the prior biennial budget, will eventually provide a credit equal to 7.5% of net manufacturing income. Note that under the new tax brackets and reduced tax rates proposed in this budget, a married couples average Wisconsin income tax rate does not reach 7.5% until income exceeds three million dollars. Few owners of these storage facilities will have any Wisconsin income tax on their profits. Who will make up their share? This is just one of many ways that this state budget betrays the public interest in favor of narrow moneyed interests. I do not blame the businesspeople that benefit from such legislation but I do expect legislators to give more consideration to the inequity and long term harm such narrow legislation can do to Wisconsin.
Mark L. Harris