Reasons I’m voting for Rebecca Kleefisch on August 9, #43: Tax pledge


Back in 1980 when I worked at WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio I extensively covered the election between Milwaukee’s most famous mayor, Henry Maier, and his opponent, Dennis Conta.

During his toughest re-election campaign in 1980 Maier narrowly lost the primary to Conta who argued for a tax on suburbanites who worked in the city of Milwaukee.

Maier would have none of it and countered at the time that you do not reduce taxes by increasing other taxes. Maier went on to defeat Conta.

I thought about that local election more than 40 years ago as I listened this morning to the GOP gubernatorial debate on Newstalk 1130 WISN’s Dan O’Donnell Show.

Rebecca reiterated her plan to reduce the state’s personal income tax, offering specific reasons why the move would be of great benefit. The moderator O’Donnell said the Legislature might be open to the idea but also is talkabout a sales tax increase. Would Rebecca support such a “tax swap” O’Donnell asked. I don’t know if O’Donnell intended it to a be a “gotcha” moment but it wasn’t.

A la Henry Maier Rebecca repeated she will not favor and would veto any net tax increases. She mentioned the pledge during today’s debate, and it was the subject of an op-ed piece a few days ago on by Patrick Gleason, vice president of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform. Gleason wrote:

In addition to being the most specific on the direction in which she would like to take the state’s tax code, Kleefisch is also the only candidate who has made it clear to Wisconsin voters, in writing, that she would veto any net tax hike that might be sent to her desk. While Rebecca Kleefisch has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment to Wisconsin residents to veto net tax hikes, Tim Michels and Timothy Ramthun have thus far declined to make that same commitment to Wisconsin residents.

In addition to calling for income tax relief, Kleefisch also proposed cutting the state’s personal property tax and called for a relocation of state agencies out of Madison to other, lower cost communities. Many Republican primary voters will likely find Kleefisch to be in good company in signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which has been signed by Governors Ron DeSantis, Kim Reynolds, Doug Ducey, Greg Abbott, Bill Lee, and Chris Sununu, among others. In fact, thanks to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia last November, there are now 16 incumbent governors who are signers of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge — the most in history.

Whereas Kleefisch provided the most details about her policy priorities during (Sunday’s) debate, Michels was less specific. When the debate moderator pressed Michels to name a reform he’d pursue upon taking office, Michels alluded to an earlier reference about his interest in auditing state agencies in a manner similar to that with which he monitors the performance of his business.


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