Despite mounting evidence that bipartisan action by Wisconsin’s elected officials is wishful thinking on our part, we’ll keep advocating for it. Because we believe that’s what Wisconsinites want, and we believe that taking bipartisan action is the right thing to do.
Today we again advocate that Republicans in Madison take note that Gov. Tony Evers’ budget does contain ideas the GOP can get behind. One in particular has to do with Wisconsin Lottery winnings.
Lottery winners looking to splurge may have to scale back if they’ve failed to pay property taxes, parking tickets or other city bills under a provision in Evers’ budget proposal, the Wisconsin State Journal reported April 8.
The provision, requested by the Department of Revenue, would allow cities and counties to enter agreements with the agency that would allow it to collect municipal debts from residents who win more than $600 in the state lottery.
In addition to parking tickets and property taxes, debts could include things like fees for ambulance rides, outstanding utility payments for municipalities that run their own utilities, and “any payment that would be owed directly to a municipality,” said DOR spokeswoman Patty Mayers.
The change would expand an existing program that allows the state to collect back state taxes and child support payments from lottery winnings, and is similar to an existing program that allows municipalities to collect outstanding citizen debt from state tax refunds.
That debt can be substantial.
Madison Finance Director David Schmiedicke said the city is trying to collect some $7.6 million in outstanding debt through the existing state program, $7.3 million of which consists of fines levied by the municipal court for violation of various city ordinances.
In Dane County, there was some $7.8 million in delinquent property taxes on the books going back to 2007, according to the treasurer’s office.
As the State Journal report pointed out, with the Legislature controlled by Republicans, nothing in Evers’ budget proposal is a sure thing, and legislative leaders have said they intend to craft their own budget.
We’d like to see Republican leadership get behind this particular Evers proposal. Municipalities should be able to collect what they are owed. Those fines are bills that need to be paid.
We also don’t believe that anyone will be deterred from playing Powerball by the possibility of having some of their winnings going to their delinquent property-tax bill.