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Walker visits Hudson to promote Wisconsin's first sales tax holiday

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Gov. Scott Walker spoke Friday, Aug. 3, at Fleet Farm in Hudson to promote the state's sales tax holiday. Mike Longaecker / RIverTown Multimedia2 / 2

Gov. Scott Walker visited the Hudson Fleet Farm on Friday afternoon to encourage Wisconsin families to participate in the state's first sales-tax holiday that runs through Sunday.

Certain items are sales tax-free until Aug. 5, including school supplies, clothing and computers and computer supplies. Other items like diapers, baby clothes, costumes, wedding apparel and more will also be sales tax-free.

However, there are some restrictions to note when shopping. School supplies and clothing are exempt if they are less than $75 per item, and computers for personal use must be under $750. School computer supplies for personal use must also be under $250.

"Earlier this summer we did a per child tax rebate of $100 for every child living at home under the age of 18 in Wisconsin," Walker said. "All of that came about because earlier in the year we had a larger than expected surplus."

Money was put aside to lower property taxes and income taxes, while a major initiative was to institute a sales tax holiday. The holiday was signed into action by Walker in April, while he first proposed the idea in his State of the State address in January.

"The best thing we could do is send it back to the hard-working taxpayers, and this was the quickest, easiest way to do it," Walker said.

Inspiration for the sales tax holiday came from Ohio, which instituted it three years in a row. Walker said Ohio actually made money off of it, with many people coming from Kentucky. Ohio eventually made it permanent after seeing a slight increase in revenue.

"Our hope is that a lot of people will come over from Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois ... and not only buy things that are sales tax free, but other items," Walker said.

The governor added his administration wanted to try out the sales tax holiday this year, and it would be their goal to do it on an annual basis if it can come close to breaking even.

Walker has already traveled to four other cities around the state, and plans to visit a few more this weekend. Many of the stops have been in areas close to the border, including La Crosse and Hudson.

Some opponents of Walker have been reported as saying this is merely a publicity stunt for his campaign, but Walker said those people are going to criticize him no matter what he does.

"We've proposed this in previous budgets and the Assembly was interested ... we finally got through the Senate earlier this year," Walker said. "This isn't something we just came up with lately; this was the opportunity for us to get it done."

The average family spends more than $600 on school supplies each year for kids in elementary through high school, according to the National Retail Foundation. The sales tax holiday overall is estimated to save Wisconsin families a total of $14.8 million between Aug. 1-5.

Zach Dwyer

Zach Dwyer is a senior journalism student at UW-River Falls. He is an intern reporter for RiverTown Multimedia during the summer of 2018 covering features and sports. He was previously a news intern in the summer of 2017 for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. 

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