State Child Care Funding Bill Contains a Welcome but Insufficient Increase

Thursday, February 22, 2018 at 8:53 AM by
Wisconsin parents need affordable, high-quality child care in order to fully participate in the workforce and be reliable employees. Wisconsin businesses seeking to expand the state’s workforce also depend on the state’s child care system, since without it far fewer parents would be able to work.
Categories: Blog | Comments (0)

Under Trump’s Budget, Millionaires Gain While Others Foot the Bill

Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 3:14 PM by
On the heels of a tax cut that will mainly benefit the wealthy and corporations, President Trump’s 2019 budget reflects his stark vision for the country—where the wealthy and powerful gain more wealth and power, while tens of millions of struggling Americans face more and more obstacles just to get by.

Short-Term Budget Thinking Can Harm Children and Families Down the Road

Monday, February 12, 2018 at 5:35 PM by

The different plans for what to do with the state’s budget surplus have one thing in common: they offer short-term benefits at the expense of long-term gains in economic stability. Many lawmakers seem to be viewing the surplus as an opportunity to provide election-year tax rebates—raising questions about whether they are focused more on securing their re-election than promoting broadly-shared prosperity across the state.

At the end of the 2019 fiscal year, Wisconsin will have $138 million more in its General Fund than was anticipated when lawmakers passed the two-year budget last year. Lawmakers are seeking ways to spend those additional resources, and the plans have gone through several variations, starting with a proposal for a child tax credit that Governor Walker announced in his State of the State address last month.

The best use for a short-term surplus like this one would be to deposit it in the state’s rainy day fund. Read more

Kimberly-Clark Proves Tax Giveaways Don’t Stop Layoffs

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 1:20 PM by

One of the Fox Valley’s largest employers has announced it is closing two Wisconsin plants and eliminating 600 jobsbut that won’t change its eligibility to claim a state tax credit that nearly eliminates the requirement for manufacturers to pay state income taxes. That’s because businesses can claim the credit even if they lay off workers, shutter factories, or ship jobs overseas.

The Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit costs the state an estimated $276 million this year in tax breaks for manufacturers and agricultural producers. That’s a lot of money. For example, that’s more than all the tuition and fees combined paid by students in Wisconsin’s technical college system.

For such a big tax break, you might think that the state would require a great deal of accountability on the part of manufacturers receiving the credit. But in fact, there is no requirement that businesses create even a single job to receive the credit. Read more

Four Charts about Wisconsin’s Public Sector

Monday, February 5, 2018 at 3:23 PM by
Wisconsin has a smaller public sector for its size than all but 14 states, according to a new analysis from the Wisconsin Budget Project.

More than $1 Billion of Foxconn Payout Has No Direct Connection to Job Creation

Monday, January 29, 2018 at 3:42 PM by

An updated calculation of the public assistance provided to Foxconn shows that the costs have risen as high as $4.5 billion when multiple forms of assistance from state government, local governments, and utilities are included. This letter from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau describes the various categories of Foxconn public assistance.

This comprehensive accounting of public costs allows us to more accurately identify how much each new job created by Foxconn will cost to taxpayers. With an eventual employment target of 13,000 jobs at Foxconn, the cost per job would be $344,000 ($4.5 billion cost divided by 13,000 jobs). Governor Walker has said that the economic activity engaged in by Foxconn will indirectly create another 22,000 jobs outside of Foxconn. Adding those jobs into the calculation would change the cost to $128,000 per job ($4.5 billion cost divided by 35,000 jobs). However, these cost-per-job figures assume that Foxconn meets all employment goals; if Foxconn employs fewer than 13,000 workers, or if some of the 22,000 other jobs are outside Wisconsin, the cost per job will be higher. Read more

Removing Barriers To Work Without Hurting Families

Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 5:24 PM by

The Governor claims he wants to expand the Wisconsin workforce by removing barriers to work, but his proposals make damaging changes to services that help families meet basic needs.

Increasing the Wisconsin workforce can, and should, be done in ways that support families who are struggling to overcome barriers to work—such as lack of transportation and child care—rather than ways that create new barriers for families who are struggling to get and maintain jobs. State lawmakers could more effectively boost the Wisconsin economy by tackling the significant barriers to work that many low-income families face. This can be done without making damaging changes to public assistance programs that help Wisconsinites be work-ready. Here are five steps state policymakers could take to expand the Wisconsin workforce that are more effective than Governor Walker’s proposals:

  1. Stop suspending driver’s licenses for not paying fines that are unrelated to driving.
    Not being allowed to drive is a major hurdle to getting and keeping a job, and the state should be working to make sure potential workers who haven’t engaged in illegal or unsafe driving can keep their driver’s licenses.
Read more

Spread the Word: The EITC Helps Working Families

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:44 PM by

Friday is Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day! The Earned Income Tax Credit, also known as EITC, is tax credit for low- and moderate- income families. The credit lets working families keep more of what they earn to help meet basic needs and pay for things that allow them to keep working, such as child care and transportation. Getting the EITC can make a big difference in improving the economic security of workers and families with low incomes—yet up to a fifth of eligible taxpayers don’t claim the credit. To make sure that all workers get the credits they earn, the Internal Revenue Service has designated January 26th EITC Awareness Day.

The EITC gives a boost to workers with low and moderate incomes all across the state. In Wisconsin, 386,000 tax filers received the federal EITC for 2016, putting $863 million back into their pockets to help make ends meet. Read more

Categories: ECONOMIC SECURITY, EITC, FEDERAL BUDGET & TAXES, refundable tax credits, STATE TAXES | Comments Off on Spread the Word: The EITC Helps Working Families

Low-Paid Workers in Many States Got a Raise this Month, but not in Wisconsin

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 at 9:43 AM by

Low-paid workers across the country got a raise this month, as 18 states and 20 cities and counties increased their minimum wages, many of them of rates to $12 to $15 an hour. Once the increases are fully phased in, 15 million workers will see long overdue raises.

In contrast, Wisconsin’s minimum wage remains at $7.25, the same as the federal minimum wage. It was last raised in 2009 and has lost about 15% of its purchasing power since then.  State lawmakers have barred local governments in Wisconsin from setting their own minimum wages that are higher than the state’s minimum.

With Wisconsin’s minimum wage still stuck at $7.25, a full-time, full-year worker in Wisconsin can earn as little $14,500 per year. For a single parent, working at the Wisconsin minimum wage puts them below the poverty line.

The large number and variety of states with increases in the minimum wage this month shows that this issue cuts across partisan lines. Read more

New Wisconsin Figures on the Tax Bill Reveal a Growing Economic Divide

Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 5:55 PM by

When we released an analysis a couple of months ago of the proposed tax bill, Speaker Ryan claimed that the Wisconsin Budget Project and others who pointed out the extremely slanted nature of the tax package were engaging in “class warfare.”  That’s an ironic charge from a lawmaker who has been leading the way for changes in taxes and spending that will substantially increase the wide gulf between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of us.

Numerous analyses of the distribution of the tax shifts have been completed, and they consistently show that the final tax bill will cause a huge shift in wealth to the richest Americans. This is exemplified by the fact that the new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are big and permanent, while the rest of us will either pay more in taxes, or if we do get a cut it will be relatively small and temporary.  Read more

Categories: Blog, FEDERAL BUDGET & TAXES, federal issues | Comments Off on New Wisconsin Figures on the Tax Bill Reveal a Growing Economic Divide