President Trump’s Budget Would Make it Harder for Wisconsin to Strengthen its Workforce

Monday, June 19, 2017 at 10:49 AM by

President Trump visited the Milwaukee area last week, tweeting that he was “heading to the Great State of Wisconsin to talk about “JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!” Expanding opportunities for workers and developing the state’s workforce should be a top priority for policymakers at both the state and federal levels, but President Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t match his actions on this issue. His proposed budget makes deep cuts to the federal resources that Wisconsin uses to develop the state’s skilled and work-ready labor force.

Trump jobs tweet

In his visit to Waukesha County Technical College, President Trump emphasized the importance of developing a skilled workforce, declaring that “America must not only teach, but celebrate skilled labor.” But the 2018 budget he proposed would deeply cut federal funding for programs and services that states deliver that are critical for the development of a healthy, well-educated workforce – programs like Medicaid, which helps people with low incomes see a doctor when they need one, and SNAP (previously known as food stamps), which helps people with low incomes put food on the table. Read more

Congressional Changes to Medicaid Leave Wisconsin Behind

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 5:54 PM by

AHCA Would Permanently Lock in Wisconsin’s Lower Federal Funding

Without so much as a single public hearing, Congress is close to approving huge changes to Medicaid that substantially reduce spending and radically change how funding is allocated. One of the ways that those changes will hurt Wisconsin is by permanently penalizing states like ours that currently spend well below the national average for each person in Medicaid.

One aspect of this problem has gotten some press attention this week – the way that the new funding allocation will lock into place lower federal support for the 19 states, including Wisconsin, that did not take federal Medicaid expansion funds. Jason Stein’s June 13 article in the Journal Sentinel does a nice job of covering that issue.

However, an even more basic problem is that the new funding formula would be based on each state’s average spending per Medicaid participant, which will freeze into place the lower federal funding levels in states that have had very narrow benefits and also in states with more generous benefits but more efficient use of their funding. Read more

Kansas’ Experiment Yields Valuable Lessons

Monday, June 12, 2017 at 1:12 PM by
Kansas map

Wisconsin lawmakers should heed the warnings from Kansas

Wisconsin lawmakers advocating for additional tax cuts should consider the example of Kansas, a state that has pushed through enormous tax cuts and that has been held up by tax-cut proponents as a model worth replicating. The massive tax cuts in Kansas damaged the state’s schools, colleges and universities, and key services – and failed to improve Kansas’s economic performance.

The tax cuts passed in Kansas are larger than the ones that have been passed in Wisconsin, but otherwise they share many characteristics. In both states, tax cuts helped the rich much more than most state residents, making income inequality worse. And both states raised taxes on low-income families working to climb into the middle class.  

In the face of disappointing economic growth, Kansas lawmakers have acknowledged that they need to take a different approach, one that invests in assets that help businesses thrive, communities prosper, and hard-working families climb the economic ladder. Read more

When Work isn’t Enough: Effectively Supporting Wisconsin’s Working Families

Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 8:13 AM by

Wisconsin workers should be able to earn enough to support their families and make ends meet. But many jobs in Wisconsin don’t pay enough to lift workers’ families out of poverty, or provide the benefits that families need, according to a recent report from COWS at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The difficulty that workers have in climbing out of poverty is compounded by the fact that many of the supports that Wisconsin provides to working families are not well-aligned with the realities of low-wage jobs. Rather than fixing these supports, some Wisconsin lawmakers want to make these services even more difficult for Wisconsin workers to access.

Many jobs in Wisconsin simply don’t pay enough to make ends meet. More than 1 in 4 Wisconsin workers hold poverty-wage jobs, defined as jobs in which someone working full-time year-round would still not earn enough to keep a family of four out of poverty. Read more

Efforts to Repeal and Replace the ACA Boost the Current Law’s Support

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 5:23 PM by

Polling Shows Public Opposition to House Bill and to Medicaid Changes

The more that Congress extends the debate about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the stronger support gets for the existing law. And as people learn more about the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is the bill the House passed last month that would repeal and replace the ACA, the more they dislike the House plan.

The latest survey results from the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll show that the majority of Americans, 55 percent, are not pleased with AHCA.   The poll also found that:

  • 55% of the public want the Senate to make major changes to the bill or just not pass it all.
  • Only 31% view the AHCA favorably, vs 49% who view the ACA favorably.
Read more

For Wisconsin, Trump Budget Would Result in an Enormous Cost Shift

Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 12:41 PM by

In addition to making deep cuts in public services, President Trump’s budget would also shift massive costs to Wisconsin at a time when our state is already struggling to meet needs for education, transportation, and other services Wisconsin residents rely on. Wisconsin likely would not be able to take on all the new costs without raising taxes, and would instead cut key investments and services that help Wisconsin families thrive.

The Trump budget would push costs onto Wisconsin for:

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Last year, SNAP helped 1 million Wisconsin residents – including more than 400,000 children – get enough to eat. One out of every six Wisconsinites got assistance from SNAP last year to put food on the table.

Trump’s budget proposal would make cuts to SNAP that would reduce benefits for some and eliminate them for others. His budget would also push 25% of SNAP benefit costs onto states, a change from the current full federal funding of benefits. Read more

Trump Budget Demonstrates the Perils of Changing Medicaid

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 5:39 PM by

Medicaid Cut Projected to Be 45% in 2026, and More in Future Years

In order to pay for huge tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans, the President is proposing massive Medicaid cuts – far beyond the amounts contained in the House plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act.

Whereas the House-passed bill is now projected to cut Medicaid by $834 billion over the next 10 years, the Trump budget unveiled this week would cut Medicaid by about $1.3 trillion, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).  The following bar graph illustrates how those cuts would get deeper over time. Read more

Proposed Changes to Transportation Finance Camouflage Tax Increase on Gas

Friday, May 12, 2017 at 5:44 AM by

State lawmakers have proposed changes to the way gas is taxed that would result in buyers paying more in taxes for each gallon of gasoline purchased.

The tax increase is part of a broad package proposed by Assembly Republicans that also includes raising the vehicle registration fees for some car owners, allowing counties to add a 0.5% sales tax to fund local roads, and directing the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to ask for an exemption from federal requirements that bar new toll roads. The transportation package is paired with a package of income tax cuts that would give extremely large tax breaks to earners with the highest incomes, while shutting out Wisconsin residents with low incomes (see New Income Tax Proposal Overwhelmingly Favors Highest Earners, May 2017).

Rather than increase the gas tax directly, lawmakers have proposed decreasing one tax and increasing another, in what seems to be an attempt to mask the fact that consumers would pay more in taxes when they buy gas. Read more

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New Income Tax Proposal Overwhelmingly Favors Highest Earners

Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 8:02 AM by

Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly have proposed a package of tax cuts that would give extremely large tax breaks to earners with the highest incomes, while shutting out Wisconsin residents with low incomes.

The tax package has multiple components, the largest of which is the gradual flattening of the state’s income tax rates. The proposal would reduce income tax rates over ten years to a flat rate of 3.95%. Currently, the bottom income tax rate is 4.0% and the top marginal rate is 7.65%, so the proposal would result in a 0.05 percentage point reduction in the tax rate for income in the bottom bracket, and a 3.7 percentage point reduction for income in the top bracket.

Wisconsin’s income tax system as it currently stands is progressive, meaning that taxpayers with higher incomes pay a higher share of their income in taxes. The progressive nature of the state’s income tax partially – but not completely – offsets the regressive nature of the state’s sales tax and property tax. Read more

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Wisconsin Left with Little to Show for Nearly Eliminating Requirement that Manufacturers Pay Income Tax

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at 7:40 AM by

The number of manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin has grown more slowly than the national average, despite a major new tax break that nearly wipes out income taxes for manufacturers.

The number of manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin grew by 1.4% between September 2013 and September 2016, less than the national rate of 2.1%. These figures are based on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, the “gold standard” measure of jobs figures. September 2016 is the most recent month for which jobs figures are available from the QCEW; that month’s figures are preliminary. The manufacturing tax break started with tax year 2013 and was phased in over a four-year period.


The slow growth of manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin is notable because over that same period Wisconsin gave manufacturers a tax break worth $457 million, through a tax credit that nearly wipes out income tax liability for manufacturers and some other businesses. But lawmakers didn’t require manufacturers to create any jobs to receive the tax break – in fact, even manufacturers that are laying off employees or sending Wisconsin jobs overseas can receive the tax cut. Read more

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