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Walker, Evers Tussle Over Taxes

Evers Promoted A New Tax Cut Wednesday While Walker Warned Against An Evers Gas Tax Hike

Governor Scott Walker and challenger Tony Evers

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tony Evers sparred Wednesday over taxes, with Evers promoting a middle class income tax cut while Walker warned that Evers would increase taxes on drivers.

It was familiar ground for Walker, who has lobbed similar attacks at Evers ever since the August primary, while for Evers, it marked a shift in strategy less than three weeks before Election Day.

Evers announced his plan on Sunday, promising to cut income taxes by 10 percent for individuals making $100,000 or less and for families who earn $150,000 or less. He ran his first TV ad promoting the tax cut Wednesday.

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“For eight years, Scott Walker rewarded his donors and the special interests,” states the ad’s narrator. “Isn’t it time the middle class gets a break?”

The Walker campaign released its own ad Wednesday attacking Evers for his openness to raising the gas tax, suggesting that Evers would increase income and property taxes, too.

“You know what bothers me about Tony Evers?” asks the woman identified as Erin who is featured in the ad. “He’s going to raise the gas tax by up to a dollar a gallon.”

Walker’s campaign has suggested for months that Evers would increase the gas tax by up to $1 per gallon despite vehement denials from Evers himself.

“That is ridiculous,” Evers said when asked last month whether he would raise the gas tax by $1 per gallon. “I’ve never said that. The governor knows I’ve never said it.”

Evers has said every possible revenue source should be on the table when it comes to funding transportation, including the gas tax.

“He needs to put a number on this,” said Walker campaign senior advisor Brian Reisinger in a conference call with reporters. “He needs to put a range on this. Or we’re forced to accept him at his word that everything is on the table.”

The Walker campaign said Wednesday a $1 gas tax increase would cost drivers an estimated $6.7 billion. That assumes the state would generate approximately $34 million per year for every penny it goes up.

But no candidates for state office are actively supporting such an increase.

The Evers campaign said Wednesday that Walker was “making stuff up at this point,” and Walker himself was an outspoken opponent to Assembly GOP efforts to increase the state tax on gas by about 7 cents in the last budget.

Wisconsin’s gas tax currently stands at 30.9 cents per gallon, or 32.9 cents per gallon when all state taxes are included. It hasn’t been raised since 2006.

Evers’ campaign says his new income tax cut would reduce taxes by $340 million over two years. That’s similar in size to Wisconsin’s Manufacturers and Agriculture Tax Credit, which Walker supports but Evers would eliminate.

Walker’s campaign says that makes Evers’ proposal is more of a “tax shift” than a tax cut. Evers contends the manufacturing credit is too focused on wealthy businesses. The wealthiest 12 percent of all recipients of the credit receive about 73 percent of the benefit.