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Guest Column: Quinn And Green Protect Taxpayers From Tribal Tax Fallout

"We will continue to work to ensure that all of the burden does not fall on the remaining property taxpayers."

Guest Column: Quinn And Green Protect Taxpayers From Tribal Tax Fallout

When we ran for the State Legislature, both of us set out goals and priorities to advance the quality of life here in northwestern Wisconsin. However, upon taking office last January, we were immediately faced with the fallout from a 2022 federal court decision which ruled property owned by tribal members on certain tribal lands is not taxable regardless of ownership changes.

The result was a loss of taxable property in numerous communities, and many concerned constituents contacted us about the increased tax burden they would now face.

We rolled up our sleeves and went to work to craft possible solutions, all while trying to explain the dire situation to our colleagues from all around the state in order to garner their support. We resolved that the affected communities, and their taxpayers, should not be held financially liable for following state law which was later reversed by the federal court.

So after months of working through the state budget process, we were able to set aside $3.6 million, using tribal gaming revenues, to assist the impacted communities, and ultimately prevent local homeowners from footing the bill.

Just last week the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee released those funds to the affected counties, municipalities, and other entities like the Ashland School District, which would have otherwise been stuck with a bill for $231,000 this year.

Additionally, we proposed reasonable levy limits for the Town of Sanborn, which is uniquely affected by the court decision because it is located entirely within the boundaries of a reservation. Unfortunately Governor Evers vetoed the limits, stating “these decisions are best left to local residents and town officials who know best how to balance the needs of their own community.”

While the released funds make up for past liabilities and gives time for most of the communities to adjust to the new tax base, a long term solution is needed for places like Sanborn. So let’s take the governor at his word if he is unwilling to reach a sustainable answer. We can do that by partnering together locally – state, municipal, and tribal leaders and their residents – to ensure the viability of the affected communities. Such a solution will require a commitment that all residents will share in the cost of basic services they receive, including residents who are no longer required to pay property taxes.

We will continue to work to ensure that all of the burden does not fall on the remaining property taxpayers.


Romaine Robert Quinn (R-Cameron) represents the 25th Senate District, which includes all of Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Burnett, Washburn, Barron, and Price Counties, and significant portions of Sawyer County.

Chanz Green (R-Grand View) represents the 74th Assembly District, which covers all of Ashland, Bayfield, Iron, and Price counties, and parts of Douglas and Sawyer counties.

Last Update: Jan 18, 2024 1:41 pm CST

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