Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch: Keeping our seniors in WisconsinSunday, February 2, 2014 - Press Release
One of the great joys of life is growing old surrounded by those we love. Senior citizens, retirees, grandparents - those in life's wiser stages are a special part of our families and our communities. And we want them here in Wisconsin, leading active and integrated lives alongside our kids and working adults.
Yet for too many seniors, high taxes drive them out of their homes and sometimes out of our state entirely. We all know "snowbirds" who head south to Florida or Texas or Arizona for the winter months, states that have lower taxes and higher temperatures. When seniors head elsewhere, they take with them their wisdom, experience, and energy. They also take their savings and investment capital, which helps grow jobs and companies in those states rather than in Wisconsin.
For many seniors who stick around our state, high property taxes push them out of their houses and into apartments or other living situations. After decades of good memories and family moments in a home, seniors find themselves thrust into new, unfamiliar places because they simply can't afford the taxes given their fixed incomes from pensions or Social Security. It shouldn't be that way.
Gov. Scott Walker and I are committed to lowering the tax burden on all Wisconsinites, and we've made great progress in our first few years in office. But we still have much more work to do, which is why I'm visiting Portage County's Lincoln Senior Center today, to listen to the stories and ideas of seniors and retirees here in central Wisconsin.
The good news is that we've made a significant dent in property taxes, which are especially tough for seniors. The budget the governor signed into law this July expanded the Veterans and Surviving Spouse Property Tax Credit to unremarried surviving spouses whose husband or wife died of a service-connected disability. Then this past fall, we passed $100 million in property tax cuts statewide. And we recently proposed an additional $406 million in relief, which would bring down taxes on the median value home by $101. That's real money that's staying in your pockets rather than going to government.
Our last budget cut income taxes for all Wisconsinites, especially those in the middle class. And we've proposed a further cut of $58 for each income taxpayer, targeted to those making under $14,000.
But even given these recent moves, Wisconsin remains one of the ten highest states in the nation for taxes. So Gov. Walker has charged me and Secretary of Revenue Rick Chandler to travel Wisconsin talking with citizens from every walk of life about fundamental tax reform. At the six previous roundtables we've held, seniors and veterans joined small business owners and working moms and farmers and many others to discuss taxes.
Today we're in Stevens Point for a tax reform roundtable on concerns unique to seniors and retirees. We're looking forward to a robust conversation about these important issues. We're committed to continuing to lower the tax burden so our families can find work here, so our businesses can grow here, and so our seniors can stay here in the homes and communities they love.