Blueprint Lays Framework to Help all Communities in Wisconsin Thrive
In order for Wisconsin remain an attractive place to live and work, the state needs to make investments in a skilled workforce, a strong public education system, and a healthy citizenry. A broad-based coalition has set out a plan for how we can invest to help Wisconsin communities thrive – and it starts by recouping millions of dollars lost to tax loopholes that benefit a small number of people.
A Wisconsin Budget for All describes how the rhetoric around the Wisconsin’s budget has created a misleading impression that we don’t have enough resources to make investments critical to Wisconsin’s economy:
“For too long, we’ve all been told that there’s not enough money in the budget to help our communities thrive. That is not true.
“Actually, there is enough. Making a budget is about making choices. Lawmakers can choose to help private special interests that rig the system, or lawmakers can choose to promote the common good.”
The plan proposes closing two wasteful tax loopholes, freeing up $900 million over the next two years:
- A costly tax credit that allows manufacturing and agricultural businesses to pay next to nothing in income taxes, and that mostly winds up in the pockets of the extremely wealthy – Tax filers with incomes under $100,000 received just 1.9% of the value of the credit that was paid through the individual income tax. In contrast, more than $100 million of the credit went to just 381 tax filers, all of whom had incomes of at least $2.8 million. The tax credit comes with no requirements for job creation, and the cost has ballooned to twice the cost that lawmakers originally anticipated when they approved the tax cut. For more about the Manufacturing and Agricultural Credit, read The Big Giveaway: Costly Tax Credit has Done Little to Boost Employment and The Big Giveaway: Updated Figures.
- Treating income from investments more favorably than income from work – Wisconsin is one of a small number of states that taxes most investment income at a significantly lower rate than income earned from work. The top 2% of taxpayers in Wisconsin – with incomes of $200,000 and above – receive almost half the value of the preferential tax treatment.
Eliminating those preferential tax breaks and reallocating the money would allow Wisconsin to make investments in the areas of work, education, and health that allow everyone to thrive and promote a shared prosperity. Proposed investments in Wisconsin’s workforce include:
- $55 million for a green jobs program that would connect low-income adults to employment;
- $170 million to give a raise to people who care for people with disabilities, and to childcare teachers; and
- $110 million to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to adults without minor children.
Proposed investments in public schools include:
- $100 million for free technical college for graduating high school seniors and some older workers;
- $100 million to make sure Wisconsin students struggling to learn to read get the one-on-one help they need; and
- $115 to address the teacher shortage and make sure Wisconsin has a highly-qualified teacher workforce.
Proposed investments in the health of Wisconsin’s residents include:
- $150 million to safeguard Wisconsin’s drinking water by replacing lead pipes, replacing contaminated wells, and cleaning up rural watersheds;
- $90 million to screen Wisconsin high school students for substance abuse, and provide counseling and referral to treatment where necessary; and
- Provide health coverage to 83,000 more adults with low incomes through BadgerCare, by drawing down federal money and potentially saving $190 million in state dollars.
A Wisconsin Budget for All has been endorsed by a variety of groups including Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, SEIU Wisconsin State Council, and many others.