March 6, 2011- Things are tight at the statehouse, but not so tight that Gov. Scott Walker couldn't find room in his proposed state budget to insert a tax break for some in Wisconsin's prefab home industry.
And it's a tax break that would benefit one of his biggest contributors – Wausau Homes in Rothschild.
Same old, same old Madison politics?
It is true that the firm's co-owners and the co-founder's wife donated a total of $25,000 to Walker's campaign fund last election. The trio has also been active with the tea party movement and Americans for Prosperity, which helped organize tea party events.
Also, the head of the association that represents the prefabricated home industry said Friday that Wausau Homes would benefit from the Walker budget provision, which proposes exempting certain prefabricated homes made in Wisconsin from the sales tax if they are to be shipped to and located in another state. The state estimates that this would cut state revenue by more than $500,000 over the next two years.
For Democrats, enough said.
"For Governor Walker to scratch the back of a political contributor just seems totally in line with what he's done," said Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the state Democratic Party. "He's always taken care of cronies."
But Tom Schuette, president and co-owner of the firm, sounded genuinely surprised to hear about the budget item.
He initially said his firm wouldn't be affected by the legislation but later said it wasn't clear if it would, adding that the state's sales and use tax regulations are very complicated. He emphasized that he never asked Walker for the tax break.
"The donation didn't have anything to do with this," said Schuette, who gave the maximum $10,000 over two years to the first-term Republican governor.