1. Tourism vs. School Start. The tourism industry, dominated by small business, is vital to the overall economic health of Wisconsin.
Visitors to the state spend billions of dollars every year supporting jobs in communities throughout the state, and it generates critically important tax revenue. The Department of Tourism reports spending by tourists supports directly or indirectly more than 150,000 jobs, and generates over $3.3 billion in tourism related income. In addition, the department estimates spending by travelers is responsible for $1.3 billion in state-local tax revenue, or about 5% of total taxes and fees collected by state and local government.
Because a strong, growing tourism industry is important to the broader small business community, legislation that impacts tourism is closely followed by NFIB in Madison. Legislation has been introduced that would allow some districts to commence the fall school term before September 1st. Current law does not allow K-12 public schools to start until after September 1st.
Based on ballot results, NFIB members support current law, which prohibits K-12 public schools from starting classes before September 1st.
Members should contact their elected officials and urge them to oppose passage of Assembly Bill 144. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance recently published Vacationing in Wisconsin, Tourism Impact on the State Economy.
2. New Audit Positions At Department Of Revenue. The 2015-17 Budget includes a tax enforcement package that will bring in an estimated $113 million in new income and sales tax revenues over the next two years. The enforcement initiative includes 102 new audit management and support positions at the Department of Revenue to find and recover taxes owed by large and small businesses.
NFIB is backing Assembly Bill 402, introduced by Representative Adam Jarchow (Balsam Lake), and Senate Bill 367, introduced by Senator Steve Nass (Whitewater), which would eliminate 70% of the new auditor positions.
Instead of launching hundreds of new audits, NFIB is working with elected officials to reform the audit process that would result in less confusion and more certainty for taxpayers who are subject to audits by The Department of Revenue.
3. Changes In Workers Compensation Appeals. The Legislature transferred most adjudicatory functions (appeals) relating to workers compensation claims to the Division of Hearings and Appeals in the Department of Administration. The provision requires 18 administrative law judges to be transferred and a new requirement that they must allocate 80% of their time to workers compensation issues. The purpose of the transfer is to make the hearing process more efficient and to improve the expertise of the administrative law judges.