Lincoln Hills (copy)

The Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls in Irma. 

Wisconsin senators signed off Wednesday on bills to delay the timeline for shutting down the state's troubled youth prisons and use expanded sales tax revenues to fund income tax cuts, sending them to Gov. Tony Evers' desk.  

The actions came after the Senate 17-16 approved the state's two-year funding plan, which cleared the Assembly Tuesday with three Republicans joining all Democratic representatives in opposing it. 

The chamber also opted to approve a series of bills aiming to boost efficiency at the Department of Transportation and alter road-building practices in the state, legislation that passed Wednesday afternoon. 

The bipartisan youth prison bill that passed with unanimous support would put off the closure of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake by six months and give counties more time to submit applications for replacement facilities and have them reviewed by lawmakers.

It would also make technical tweaks to legislation that passed last year laying out the framework for shutting down and replacing the state’s embattled youth prisons located north of Wausau.

The legislation, along with a bill that would clean up language in past legislation that cleared the way for the state to collect sales taxes on online purchases, both passed the Assembly earlier this month

The new online sales taxes bill, which also received unanimous support in the Senate, would expand the number of those transactions that would be subject to the tax, with the funding going toward a reduction in the two lowest tax brackets.

The bill is a key part of Republicans’ plans to dole out individual income tax cuts over the next two years. In all, it would reduce income taxes by $136 million in 2020, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which amounts to a $59 average reduction among individuals that year.

Combined with the income tax cuts approved in the state budget, individuals would see on average a $136 per-person reduction in 2020. 

On transportation, the Senate approved three bills that already cleared the Assembly and are now heading to Evers. The trio passed the chamber on 19-14 party-line votes. 

Senators didn't vote on one of the transportation bills that has already received Assembly support, AB 285, which would seek to ensure increased competition for highway improvement projects headed by DOT. 

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.