On Tuesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told Newsradio 620 WTMJ host Charlie Sykes, "I will not support any tonnage tax or any other upfront taxes and I don’t think there is even close to a majority in either house that would support those taxes." In addition, Sen. Fitzgerald explained that he hoped Governor Scott Walker would threaten to veto any mining bill that has a tonnage tax or other taxes.
"I think it’s a much improved bill," Sen. Fitzgerald told Sykes, "and we’re eager to get this bill passed."
On January 31, RightWisconsin exclusively reported that a handful of GOP State Senators were willing to support a tonnage tax pushed by State Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar). In response to the RightWisconsin story, State Senator Mary Lazich responded by saying "I do not nor have I ever supported a tonnage tax on mining." "The mining bill is about creating jobs all over Wisconsin and getting Wisconsinites back to work not creating more government red tape," said Sen. Lazich.
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) was quick to respond to the tonnage tax proposal, opposing the idea in the strongest terms. WMC VP Scott Manley said, "The gross tonnage tax is a poorly conceived tax policy, and is every bit as economically flawed as Governor Jim Doyle’s gross receipts tax on oil companies or Senator Chuck Chvala’s gross receipts tax on phone companies. Senator Jauch's tax hike should be rejected." Manley called the tonnage tax "uncompetitive" and "a dangerous precedent" because the tax will be "extracted regardless of whether [the mining company] is making a profit."
Sen. Fitzgerald’s commitment to opposing a new tonnage tax comes on the heels of new poll showing "overwhelming support" for the mine among small business owners. The National Federation of Independent Businesses announced that a poll of their members reveal that 81.9% of small business owners support the creation of the mine that would bring $1.5 billion in investment and 2,000 jobs to the economically depressed region in Northern Wisconsin.
Listen to Charlie's interview with Senator Fitzgerald here.