For purposes of the uniformity clause, there is only one class of property, property that is taxable, and the burden of taxation must be borne as nearly as practicable among all property, based on value. Noah's Ark Family Park v. Village of Lake Delton, 210 Wis. 2d 301, 565 N.W.2d 230 (Ct. App. 1997). Affirmed 216 Wis. 2d 387, 573 N.W.2d 852 (1998), 96-1074.

To prove a statute unconstitutional due to a violation of the uniformity clause, a taxpayer must initially prove that his property has been overvalued while other property has been undervalued. Norquist v. Zeuske, 211 Wis. 2d 241, 564 N.W.2d 748 (1997), 96-1812.

Sections 70.47 (13), 70.85, and 74.37 provide the exclusive method to challenge a municipality's bases for assessment of individual parcels. All require appeal to the board of review prior to court action. There is no alternative procedure to challenge an assessment's compliance with the uniformity clause. Hermann v. Town of Delavan, 215 Wis. 2d 370, 572 N.W.2d 855 (1998), 96-0171.

The uniformity clause is limited to property taxes, recurring ad valorem taxes on property, as opposed to transactional taxes such as those imposed on income or sales. Telemark Development, Inc. v. DOR, 218 Wis. 2d 809, 581 N.W.2d 585 (Ct. App. 1998), 97-3133.

A partial exemption from property taxation, proposed for land conveyed to The National Audubon Society, Inc., probably is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and the rule of uniformity. 61 Atty. Gen. 173.

Competitive bidding for the issuance of a liquor license violates this section. 61 Atty. Gen. 180.

A bill providing for a tax on all known commercially feasible low-grade iron ore reserve deposits in Wisconsin, would appear to violate the uniformity of taxation provisions of sec. 1. 63 Atty. Gen. 3.

A law providing that improvements to real property would be assessed as of the date of completion of the improvements would be unconstitutional. 81 Atty. Gen. 94.

VIII,2 Appropriations; limitation. Section 2. [As amended Nov. 1877] No money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation by law. No appropriation shall be made for the payment of any claim against the state except claims of the United States and judgments, unless filed within six years after the claim accrued. [1876 J.R. 7, 1877 J.R. 4, 1877 c. 158, vote Nov. 1877]

The creation of a continuing appropriation by one legislature does not restrict a subsequent legislature from reallocating the unexpended, unencumbered public funds subject to the original appropriation. Flynn v. Department of Administration, 216 Wis. 2d 521, 576 N.W.2d 245 (1998), 96-3266.

Although there is no specific clause in the constitution establishing the public purpose doctrine, the doctrine is firmly accepted as a basic tenet of the constitution, mandating that public appropriations may not be used for other than public purposes. Courts are to give great weight and afford very wide discretion to legislative declarations of public purpose, but are not bound by such legislative expressions. It is the duty of the court to determine whether a public purpose can be conceived that might reasonably justify the basis of the duty. Town of Beloit v. County of Rock, 2003 WI 8, 259 Wis. 2d 37, 657 N.W.2d 344, 00-1231.

Funds may not be used to construct a project that has not been provided for in either the long-range building program or specifically described in the session laws. 61 Atty. Gen. 298.

The constitution does not preclude grants of state money to private parties for the purpose of affording disaster relief under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974. An appropriation by the legislature is required, however, to provide the state funding contemplated by the Act. Federal advances under the Act are limited by Art. VIII, sec. 6. 64 Atty. Gen. 39.

VIII,3 Credit of state. Section 3. [As amended April 1975] Except as provided in s. 7 (2) (a), the credit of the state shall never be given, or loaned, in aid of any individual, association or corporation. [1973 J.R. 38, 1975 J.R. 3, vote April 1975]

VIII,4 Contracting state debts. Section 4. The state shall never contract any public debt except in the cases and manner herein provided.

The Housing Authority Act does not create a state debt even though it calls for legislative appropriations in future years to service payment of notes and bonds. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.

An authority's power to issue notes and bonds does not constitute the creation of a state debt or a pledge of the state's credit in violation of art. VIII, since the creating act specifically prohibited the authority from incurring state debt or pledging state credit, and the provision of the act recognizing a moral obligation on the part of the legislature to make up deficits does not create an obligation legally enforceable against the state. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 Wis. 2d 464, 235 N.W.2d 648.

Because operating notes are to be paid from money in the process of collection, notes are not public debt. State ex rel. La Follette v. Stitt, 114 Wis. 2d 358, 338 N.W.2d 684 (1983).

An agreement to pay rent under a long-term lease would amount to contracting a debt unless the lease is made subject to the availability of future funds. 60 Atty. Gen. 408.

Borrowing money from federal government to replenish Wisconsin's unemployment compensation fund does not contravene either art. VIII, sec. 3 or 4. 71 Atty. Gen. 95.

VIII,5 Annual tax levy to equal expenses. Section 5. The legislature shall provide for an annual tax sufficient to defray the estimated expenses of the state for each year; and whenever the expenses of any year shall exceed the income, the legislature shall provide for levying a tax for the ensuing year, sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency as well as the estimated expenses of such ensuing year.

Deficit reported in financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles would not violate this section. 74 Atty. Gen. 202.

VIII,6 Public debt for extraordinary expense; taxation. Section 6. For the purpose of defraying extraordinary expenditures the state may contract public debts (but such debts shall never in the aggregate exceed one hundred thousand dollars). Every such debt shall be authorized by law, for some purpose or purposes to be distinctly specified therein; and the vote of a majority of all the members elected to each house, to be taken by yeas and nays, shall be necessary to the passage of such law; and every such law shall provide for levying an annual tax sufficient to pay the annual interest of such debt and the principal within five years from the passage of such law, and shall specially appropriate the proceeds of such taxes to the payment of such principal and interest; and such appropriation shall not be repealed, nor the taxes be postponed or diminished, until the principal and interest of such debt shall have been wholly paid.

The constitution does not preclude grants of state money to private parties for the purpose of affording disaster relief under the federal Disaster Relief Act of 1974;. An appropriation by the legislature is required, however, to provide the state funding contemplated by the Act. Federal advances under the Act are limited by Art. VIII, sec. 6. 64 Atty. Gen. 39.

VIII,7 Public debt for public defense; bonding for public purposes. Section 7. [As amended April 1969, April 1975 and April 1992]
VIII,7(1) (1) The legislature may also borrow money to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or defend the state in time of war; but the money thus raised shall be applied exclusively to the object for which the loan was authorized, or to the repayment of the debt thereby created.

VIII,7(2) (2) Any other provision of this constitution to the contrary notwithstanding:

VIII,7(2)(a) (a) The state may contract public debt and pledges to the payment thereof its full faith, credit and taxing power:

VIII,7(2)(a)1. 1. To acquire, construct, develop, extend, enlarge or improve land, waters, property, highways, railways, buildings, equipment or facilities for public purposes.

VIII,7(2)(a)2. 2. To make funds available for veterans' housing loans.

VIII,7(2)(b) (b) The aggregate public debt contracted by the state in any calendar year pursuant to paragraph (a) shall not exceed an amount equal to the lesser of:

VIII,7(2)(b)1. 1. Three-fourths of one per centum of the aggregate value of all taxable property in the state; or

VIII,7(2)(b)2. 2. Five per centum of the aggregate value of all taxable property in the state less the sum of: a. the aggregate public debt of the state contracted pursuant to this section outstanding as of January 1 of such calendar year after subtracting therefrom the amount of sinking funds on hand on January 1 of such calendar year which are applicable exclusively to repayment of such outstanding public debt and, b. the outstanding indebtedness as of January 1 of such calendar year of any entity of the type described in paragraph (d) to the extent that such indebtedness is supported by or payable from payments out of the treasury of the state.

VIII,7(2)(c) (c) The state may contract public debt, without limit, to fund or refund the whole or any part of any public debt contracted pursuant to paragraph (a), including any premium payable with respect thereto and any interest to accrue thereon, or to fund or refund the whole or any part of any indebtedness incurred prior to January 1, 1972, by any entity of the type described in paragraph (d), including any premium payable with respect thereto and any interest to accrue thereon.

VIII,7(2)(d) (d) No money shall be paid out of the treasury, with respect to any lease, sublease or other agreement entered into after January 1, 1971, to the Wisconsin State Agencies Building Corporation, Wisconsin State Colleges Building Corporation, Wisconsin State Public Building Corporation, Wisconsin University Building Corporation or any similar entity existing or operating for similar purposes pursuant to which such nonprofit corporation or such other entity undertakes to finance or provide a facility for use or occupancy by the state or an agency, department or instrumentality thereof.

VIII,7(2)(e) (e) The legislature shall prescribe all matters relating to the contracting of public debt pursuant to paragraph (a), including: the public purposes for which public debt may be contracted; by vote of a majority of the members elected to each of the 2 houses of the legislature, the amount of public debt which may be contracted for any class of such purposes; the public debt or other indebtedness which may be funded or refunded; the kinds of notes, bonds or other evidence of public debt which may be issued by the state; and the manner in which the aggregate value of all taxable property in the state shall be determined.

VIII,7(2)(f) (f) The full faith, credit and taxing power of the state are pledged to the payment of all public debt created on behalf of the state pursuant to this section and the legislature shall provide by appropriation for the payment of the interest upon and instalments of principal of all such public debt as the same falls due, but, in any event, suit may be brought against the state to compel such payment.

VIII,7(2)(g) (g) At any time after January 1, 1972, by vote of a majority of the members elected to each of the 2 houses of the legislature, the legislature may declare that an emergency exists and submit to the people a proposal to authorize the state to contract a specific amount of public debt for a purpose specified in such proposal, without regard to the limit provided in paragraph (b). Any such authorization shall be effective if approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon. Public debt contracted pursuant to such authorization shall thereafter be deemed to have been contracted pursuant to paragraph (a), but neither such public debt nor any public debt contracted to fund or refund such public debt shall be considered in computing the debt limit provided in paragraph (b). Not more than one such authorization shall be thus made in any 2-year period. [1967 J.R. 58, 1969 J.R. 3, vote April 1969; 1973 J.R. 38, 1975 J.R. 3, vote April 1975; J.R. 9, vote April 1992]

The Housing Authority Act does not violate sub. (2) (d) because housing constructed is not for state use. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.

An authority's power to issue notes and bonds does not constitute the creation of a state debt or a pledge of the state's credit in violation of art. VIII, since the creating act specifically prohibited the authority from incurring state debt or pledging state credit, and the provision of the act recognizing a moral obligation on the part of the legislature to make up deficits does not create an obligation legally enforceable against the state. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 Wis. 2d 464, 235 N.W.2d 648.

The debt limitations imposed are annual limitations but nevertheless have the effect of establishing an aggregate state debt limitation of 5% of the total value of all taxable property in the state plus the amount of debt sinking fund reserves on hand. 58 Atty. Gen. 1.

State debt financing under s. 32.19 is permissible. 62 Atty. Gen. 42.

Issuance of general obligation bonds to finance a state fair park coliseum is authorized by s. 20.866 (2) (zz) and is not violative of the state constitution. 62 Atty. Gen. 236.

Section 7 (2) (d) does not preclude the state from entering into a lease with a nonprofit corporation or other entity furnishing facilities for governmental functions unless there is an attempt to use the lease as part of a scheme for the state to acquire title to or the use of a facility without utilizing state general obligation bonding. 62 Atty. Gen. 296.

Improving land or improve water under sub. (2) (a) 1. requires an undertaking that improves the quality or condition of the land or water, but does not require that physical structures be involved. 81 Atty. Gen. 114.

VIII,8 Vote on fiscal bills; quorum. Section 8. On the passage in either house of the legislature of any law which imposes, continues or renews a tax, or creates a debt or charge, or makes, continues or renews an appropriation of public or trust money, or releases, discharges or commutes a claim or demand of the state, the question shall be taken by yeas and nays, which shall be duly entered on the journal; and three-fifths of all the members elected to such house shall in all such cases be required to constitute a quorum therein.

Section 70.11 (8m), Stats. 1967, imposed a tax on property not previously taxed, and since no roll call votes appear on the legislative journals, it was not validly passed. State ex rel. General Motors Corp. v. Oak Creek, 49 Wis. 2d 299, 182 N.W.2d 481.

Past decisions of the court consistently tend to limit the definition of what is a fiscal law and not every bill with a minimal fiscal effect requires a recorded vote. 60 Atty. Gen. 245.

The taking of yea and nay votes and the entry on the journals of the senate and assembly can be complied with by recording the total aye vote together with a listing of the names of those legislators who voted no, were absent or not voting or were paired on the question. Art. V, sec. 10; Art. VIII, sec. 8; Art. XII, sec. 1 discussed. 63 Atty. Gen. 346.

VIII,9 Evidences of public debt. Section 9. No scrip, certificate, or other evidence of state debt, whatsoever, shall be issued, except for such debts as are authorized by the sixth and seventh sections of this article.

The limit on recovery from governmental tort-feasors in ss. 81.15 and 895.43, 1975 stats., is not invalid under this section. Stanhope v. Brown County, 90 Wis. 2d 823, 280 N.W.2d 711 (1979).

VIII,10 Internal improvements. Section 10. [As amended Nov. 1908, Nov. 1924, Apr. 1945, Apr. 1949, Apr. 1960, Apr. 1968 and Apr. 1992] Except as further provided in this section, the state may never contract any debt for works of internal improvement, or be a party in carrying on such works.

VIII,10(1) (1) Whenever grants of land or other property shall have been made to the state, especially dedicated by the grant to particular works of internal improvement, the state may carry on such particular works and shall devote thereto the avails of such grants, and may pledge or appropriate the revenues derived from such works in aid of their completion.

VIII,10(2) (2) The state may appropriate money in the treasury or to be thereafter raised by taxation for:

VIII,10(2)(a) (a) The construction or improvement of public highways.

VIII,10(2)(b) (b) The development, improvement and construction of airports or other aeronautical projects.

VIII,10(2)(c) (c) The acquisition, improvement or construction of veterans' housing.

VIII,10(2)(d) (d) The improvement of port facilities.

VIII,10(2)(e) (e) The acquisition, development, improvement or construction of railways and other railroad facilities.

VIII,10(3) (3) The state may appropriate moneys for the purpose of acquiring, preserving and developing the forests of the state. Of the moneys appropriated under the authority of this subsection in any one year an amount not to exceed two-tenths of one mill of the taxable property of the state as determined by the last preceding state assessment may be raised by a tax on property. [1905 J.R. 11, 1907 J.R. 18, 1907 c. 238, vote Nov. 1908; 1921 J.R. 29S, 1923 J.R. 57, 1923 c. 289, vote Nov. 1924; 1943 J.R. 37, 1945 J.R. 3, vote April 1945; Spl. S. 1948 J.R. 1, 1949 J.R. 1, vote April 1949; 1957 J.R. 58, 1959 J.R. 15, vote April 1960; 1965 J.R. 43, 1967 J.R. 25, vote April 1968; 1991 J.R. 9, vote April 1992]

The Housing Authority Act does not make the state a party to carrying on works of public improvement. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.

The Solid Waste Recycling Authority Act does not contravene the Art. VIII, sec. 10 prohibition against state participation in internal improvements. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 Wis. 2d 464, 235 N.W.2d 648.

The housing assistance program under 560.04 (3), 1985 stats., violated the ban on state involvement in "internal improvements." Development Dept. v. Building Commission, 139 Wis. 2d 1, 406 N.W.2d 728 (1987).

State participation in a proposed convention center in the City of Milwaukee would not violate either the "public purpose" doctrine or the internal improvements prohibitions of art. VIII, sec. 10, so long as such participation is directed solely to the clearly identifiable portion of the center allocated to use as a state-operated tourist information center or some similar state governmental function. A state tax operable only in 2 or 3 counties would not be a proper means of operational financing of such a center. 58 Atty. Gen. 119.

The secretary of the department of transportation, while acting as agent for airport sponsors, pursuant to s. 114.32, can give the required assurance to the Federal Aviation Administration and provide replacement housing without violating Art. VIII, sec. 10. 60 Atty. Gen. 225.

A vocational, technical and adult education district has authority to purchase buildings for administration purposes or student dormitory housing, and in doing so would not violate the constitutional ban on works of internal improvement. 60 Atty. Gen. 231.

Chapter 108, laws of 1973, creating a small business investment company fund, contemplates the appropriation of public funds for a valid public purpose, not for works of internal improvement, and is constitutional. 62 Atty. Gen. 212.

Subject to certain limitations, the lease of state office building space to commercial enterprise serving both state employees and the general public is constitutional. Such leases do not require bidding. 69 Atty. Gen. 121.

Dredging a navigable waterway to alleviate periodic flooding is not a prohibited "work of internal improvement." 69 Atty. Gen. 176.

The state's issuance of general obligation bonds to fund private construction for pollution abatement purposes does not violate Art. VIII, secs. 3 and 10, or the public purpose doctrine. 74 Atty. Gen. 25.

A new look at internal improvements and public purpose rules. Eich, 1970 WLR 1113.
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Wisconsin Constitution updated by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Published Dec. 4, 2014. Click for the Coverage of Annotations for the Annotated Constitution. Report errors at (608) 266-3561, FAX 264-6948.