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

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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

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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
Categories: Blog, FEDERAL BUDGET & TAXES, federal issues, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, health care reform, Medicaid | Comments Off on Efforts to Repeal and Replace the ACA Boost the Current Law’s Support

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

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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

Categories: 2017-19 biennial budget, Blog, income taxes, STATE BUDGET, STATE TAXES | Comments Off on New Income Tax Proposal Overwhelmingly Favors Highest Earners

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.

Manuf-jobs

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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Negative Effects of the House Health Care Bill Keep Expanding

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 3:17 PM by

[UPDATE — This post was revised on May 3 to reflect the new position of Congressman Fred Upton, who has authored an amendment that might secure enough votes for House passage of the bill on May 4.]

Passage of the House plan to repeal and partially replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would make sweeping changes that negatively affect most Americans. Yet some opponents of the ACA have made the mistaken or disingenuous argument that few people would be affected.

Governor Walker, for example, told reporters on March 8 of this year that repealing and replacing the ACA with Speaker Ryan’s plan would only affect a small percentage of Wisconsinites:

“Most people aren’t going to be affected by this no matter what happens because if you get your health insurance from your employer, which is almost everybody here and almost everybody in this state, nothing changes.”

That assessment was flawed at the time, and since early March it has steadily become more apparent that most Wisconsinites could be adversely affected. Read more

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Indicate a Willingness to Take Money from Education and Health Care to Fund Highways

Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 11:18 AM by

Governor Walker and other state lawmakers have said they are open to redirecting money from a pot intended to support education, health care, and safe communities, and using the money for roads instead. That approach could lead to future budget cuts that damage academic opportunities for Wisconsin schoolchildren, lengthen the amount of time to graduation for University of Wisconsin students, and make it harder for communities to afford important services like trash collection and street cleaning.

State road projects are funded with resources from Wisconsin’s Transportation Fund. About a decade ago, state lawmakers froze the gas tax on each gallon of gas sold – the main source of revenue for the Transportation Fund – and inflation has eaten away at the tax’s value since then, shrinking the amount of resources available to build and maintain Wisconsin’s transportation network. The result is that there is not currently nearly enough money coming into the Transportation Fund to pay for all the highway projects lawmakers want. Read more