Wisconsin Democrat says voters who oppose raising taxes “aren’t smart”

State Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason)
State Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason)(WMTV-TV)
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:38 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Democratic leader in the Wisconsin Senate says that county voters who reject raising local sales taxes “aren’t smart.”

The comment from Sen. Janet Bewley, of Mason, came during a pre-taped round table discussion broadcast Wednesday during a Wisconsin Counties Association meeting. Lawmakers were discussing Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to allow voters in counties to vote on approving a half-cent sales tax increase.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, both Republicans, flatly rejected the proposal, which is a priority for counties.

When asked why voters would reject a tax increase, Bewley said, “Perhaps it means they’re not smart.” She later apologized for the quip, calling it a “failed attempt at sarcasm and poor choice of words.” She also wrote, “There’s no good way to deal with a system that forces people to go to referendum in order to pay for essential services, such as having an ambulance come when you call for help. It has nothing to do with being smart, it has everything to do with the Republican controlled legislature starving local governments of the resources they need to protect their communities.”

Vos had praised the decision in Walworth County to use additional sales tax revenue to lower property taxes, but he said most counties are looking for additional spending, not tax cuts.

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