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Vos: Milwaukee’s threatened shared revenue lawsuit ‘disappointing’

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(The Center Square) – The plan to allow Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to raise their sales taxes and take themselves off a fiscal cliff are now state law. But the city of Milwaukee is preparing to go to court to fight the spending restrictions that are also now law.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told reporters at the Wisconsin Capitol Wednesday that’s a bad idea.

“It’s really disappointing,” Vos said. “We have literally spent months negotiating in good faith, saying that we were willing to flex on some of the things that were core priorities for us as conservatives, and it seemed like they were willing to flex on things that were important for them. To find that common-sense consensus. And to now say they are going to use the very dollars the state of Wisconsin gave them to sue the state is a really bad sign for future relations.”

Vos and his fellow Republicans included a number of spending restrictions in the shared revenue legislation, including requirements that Milwaukee spend its new money on police, fire, EMS, roads, and its struggling pension system.

The Republican restrictions also bar Milwaukee from spending money on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Milwaukee Common Council President Jose Perez on Tuesday said he intends to not only ignore those spending restrictions, but take them to court.

“We will also be taking up legislation that would double the funding for the Office of Equity and Inclusion and Office of African American Affairs, [and] set aside funds for litigation to fight provisions of the bill that overstep our home rule,” Perez said in a statement. “Despite the Legislature’s efforts to impose their values on us, we are resolute in our promise to operate our government in accordance with the values of our diverse community.”

Vos said lawmakers tried to help Milwaukee with its fiscal crisis, and this is what they get in return.

“I certainly hope they rethink their decision as they try to focus on the good that was in the bill, rather than try and micromanage some of the things that have challenges with. Which, frankly, every single one of which improves their financial situation. Which was the goal of the bill anyway.”

Milwaukee is not wasting time in moving toward raising its sales tax by as much as 2%. The first vote on the tax will come next week, with a final vote coming two weeks after that.

Perez said waiting only costs Milwaukee. He said the tax will bring-in $16 million per month and he doesn’t want to let any of that money go uncollected.

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