Many Wisconsin low-income families miss out on their full tax refund because they do not claim tax credits for which they are eligible —particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Homestead Tax Credit, and the federal child tax credit. Please help us get these flyers, which explain the eligibility for these credits, into the hands of low-income families who could benefit.
January 18th UPDATE: Sometimes it feels good to be wrong — like when the Packers outperform my pessimistic predictions and when new state revenue forecasts are stronger than I anticipated. So I’m very happy that the revised revenue projections released this afternoon by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) are considerably better than I expected when I wrote our Jan. 17th blog post.
The new LFB numbers indicate that a combination of lower-than-expected spending and higher-than-expected tax revenue will be enough to maintain a comfortable budget balance in the current fiscal year, and also enough to fund the amounts requested by state agencies in the next biennium. That’s a huge relief after the very slow revenue growth from July through November, which suggested that the next estimate of revenue collections was likely to be down, rather than up. This year’s revised revenue collections are still below the level forecasted a year ago, but are now expected to be considerably stronger in the next biennium than the Department of Administration estimated in November. Read more
Low-paid workers across the country got a raise this month, as 19 states increased their minimum wages. A higher minimum wage means that workers will be better able to make ends meet and support their families, but the benefits don’t end there. More income in the pockets of workers translates to additional economic activity, and workers spend their raises at local businesses buying groceries, getting their cars fixed, or paying off medical bills.
The 19 states that increased their minimum wage this month are Massachusetts, Washington, California, New York, Arizona, Maine, Colorado, Alaska, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan and Vermont.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin workers and communities will not receive any of the benefits of a higher minimum wage. Wisconsin is among the minority of states that have a minimum wage stuck at $7.25 per hour, a level that was last increased in 2009.
Because Wisconsin is not among the states that have set a higher minimum wage, a full-time, full-year worker in Wisconsin still earn as little $14,500 per year. Read more
When Wisconsin residents drive on the highway, send their child off to school, or go to the doctor, they are benefitting from federal money spent in Wisconsin that supports a broad range of services. Under a new Congress, Wisconsin may be at risk of losing some of that federal money, making it more difficult for Wisconsin to provide the services that make the state a great place to live, work, and do business.
Wisconsin’s two-year budget that runs from July 2015 to June 2017 includes $21 billion in federal spending. In fact, out of every dollar the state spends in the budget, 29¢ comes from the federal government. Keep in mind that amount, though significant, understates the importance of federal money coming into the state. That’s because that $21 billion figure doesn’t include billions in federal resources that are delivered directly to Wisconsin residents or companies, such as Social Security payments, defense contracts, and the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. Read more
Very Slow Tax Growth Suggests Budget Difficulties Ahead
New tax collection numbers that were released late on December 23 do not bode well for the Wisconsin budget. The November tax figures released by the Department of Revenue (DOR) late last Friday – a week after negative job numbers – suggest significant challenges ahead for state budget writers.
I’m not sure whether DOR released the tax collection data just a couple of hours before the Christmas break in order to avoid public notice, but if that was their plan it worked very well. There doesn’t seem to have been any media coverage of the new numbers. Read more
With all the changes that federal lawmakers and President-elect Trump have said they will make in the coming year, it’s no wonder everyone is talking about the budget decisions that may be made in 2017. But before we move on to the new year, let’s take a look back at the budget decisions made in 2016.
Here at the Wisconsin Budget Project, we’ve been working all year to make sense of complex budget-related issues and explain how decisions made by federal and state lawmakers help or harm people in Wisconsin. A look back at our most-read posts and publications over the last year serves as a snapshot of budget decisions made over the course of 2016 and earlier, and demonstrates the consequences of those decisions.
Next year brings many unknowns, to say the least. You can keep up with what’s happening by following the Wisconsin Budget Project on Facebook and Twitter (@WiBudgetProject), signing up to get occasional emails, and reading our blog and website. Read more
Wisconsin lawmakers are struggling with how to address a shortfall in the pot of money that the state uses to build and repair highways. There are several possible solutions, but one course of action should be off the table: siphoning off resources slated to pay for the education of Wisconsin schoolchildren or helping people with low incomes get the medical care they need, and redirecting that money to pay for highways.
State lawmakers are in a bind because there is not nearly enough money in the state’s Transportation Fund to keep planned highway projects on schedule. That shortfall is largely due to the fact that Wisconsin’s gas tax has been frozen for the past decade, with inflation eating away at the value of the tax and causing a slow decline in the gas tax revenues into the Transportation Fund.
There are a variety of opinions among lawmakers about how to solve this dilemma. Read more