Growing Gap between Rich and Everyone Else Thwarts Economic Opportunity

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 4:13 PM by

It turns out that a rising tide doesn’t lift all boats.

As the economy has expanded over the past decades, prosperity has not been broadly shared. Income gains have been directed into the pockets of those who already have very high incomes, while incomes of the rest have stagnated. The result is that workers in Wisconsin and across the country are missing out on reaping the rewards of their increased productivity, while the incomes of the top 1% soar.

The incomes of the very richest have increased dramatically, while the incomes of everyone else have stagnated. Since the late 1970s, the income of the top 1% in Wisconsin has increased by more than 130%, while the income of the remaining 99% has increased just 9%. The share of all income that is captured by the top 1% has more than doubled since the 1970s, to the point where $1 out of every $6 in Wisconsin now goes to the top 1% of earners. Read more

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Reviewing the Foxconn Costs and Risks (without the Rose-colored Glasses)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 5:31 PM by

Different Assumptions about Foxconn Job Creation Yield Much Higher Estimates of the Cost of Jobs

The cost of the proposed new tax credits for the tentative deal with Foxconn could be far larger per job created than some people have suggested. Those costs will vary greatly depending on the ratio of spending for payroll versus the capital expenditures.

The more that Foxconn invests in its facilities and state-of-the-art automation, rather than payroll, the more the proposed deal will cost state taxpayers per job created. A new Wisconsin Budget Project report examines the potential tax credit costs based on four scenarios that make different assumptions about the number of new jobs, the duration of the project, and the amount of Foxconn spending for capital improvements. Read more

Without Action from Policymakers, Many Will Continue to be Cut Off from Economic Opportunity

Thursday, July 27, 2017 at 1:52 PM by

An improving economy should offer more people a chance to climb the economic ladder to the middle class. But too many people in Wisconsin and nationwide are still being left behind, with their path to prosperity blocked by low-paying jobs, high housing costs, and lack of access to higher education, according to a new scorecard from Prosperity Now. Families of color are among those facing the most difficulty getting by, as they continue to feel the effect of generations of wealth-stripping policies targeting households and communities of color.

There are some signs of improvement in the national economy, most notably in the unemployment rate and poverty rate.  The national unemployment rate dropped to 4.9% in 2016, according to the scorecard, nearly matching the pre-recession low reached in 2006-7. And the number of households living in poverty fell to 13.8% in 2016, the first measurable decline since 2011.

A more in-depth examination of the economic trends, however, shows that the gains have not been shared widely, particularly with regards to race. Read more

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ACA Repeal “Fixes” Continue to Shortchange Wisconsin

Monday, July 24, 2017 at 5:08 PM by

The legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can’t be fixed, but Senator McConnell and President Trump are still trying to revive it. McConnell plans to have a vote on July 25 on a procedural measure to initiate floor debate on the bill.

The conclusion that the bill isn’t fixable is reinforced by the badly flawed amendments that have been suggested as ways of getting a few more Senate Republicans to vote for the bill. One of the many problems with the following amendments is that each of them would adversely affect Wisconsin: Read more

Categories: Blog, federal issues, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, health care reform, Medicaid | Comments Off on ACA Repeal “Fixes” Continue to Shortchange Wisconsin

Trump Tax Plan Primarily Benefits the Richest Americans

Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 12:57 PM by

Trump’s Tax Proposals Would Give Richest 1 Percent of Wisconsin Taxpayers an Average $117,000 Tax Cut, and More than Half of the Total Cuts

The federal tax reform plan outlined by President Trump in April would fail to deliver on its promise of largely helping middle-class taxpayers, according to a new analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Their July 20th report concludes that the President’s proposals would shower 61.4% of the total tax cut on the richest 1 percent of Americans.

ITEP’s analysis examines the overall effect of the Trump tax plan on federal revenue, as well as its impact on taxpayers in each of the 50 states. In sum, the plan would slash federal revenue by $4.8 trillion over the next decade.

The proposed tax cuts that primarily benefit the very wealthy would come with a heavy cost for vital program and services. Reducing investments in education, health care, food assistance, and other critical programs is too steep a price to pay for giving the very rich a tax cut that exceeds twice the income of the typical Wisconsin worker. Read more

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Repeal without Replacing: A Health Care Disaster

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 6:13 PM by

A month or two ago, President Trump described the House plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as being “mean,” and he was right. Yet today he endorsed a far meaner approach – repealing the ACA without a replacement plan – even though he was the one who shot down that idea when Congress was considering it back in January, and despite the fact that a wealth of data demonstrate what a disaster that approach would be.

Senator McConnell is trying to breathe life into the strategy of repealing the ACA without first coming up with a replacement. That became his fallback plan today after it became apparent late yesterday that there aren’t enough votes to even begin the floor debate on the extremely unpopular “repeal and replace” plan, which a small group of Senators spent the last couple of months developing behind closed doors.

President Trump endorsed the new strategy, but some of the other Republican lawmakers who opposed the idea early this year – and whose positions are less fluid than Trump’s – have said they are still unwilling to wipe away the current law without having a replacement plan. Read more

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Wisconsin Voters Understand Importance of Making Public Investments in Education, Health Care

Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 11:15 AM by

Wisconsin voters want the state to make additional investments in K-12 education and health coverage and are willing to pay more in taxes to pay for it, according to a new poll conducted by Marquette University.

The poll showed that K-12 education was voters’ highest priority for increased state spending, with 62% of respondents picking it as the first or second highest priority. Health coverage came next, with 52% of respondents indicating it was among their highest priorities. Road construction and maintenance came in third, with 42% choosing it as a high priority. Fewer voters identified state aid to local governments, the UW System, and prisons and the criminal justice system as their highest priorities.

Most voters said they’d be willing to pay more in taxes to increase state spending on their highest priority. More than 6 out of ten respondents (61%) indicated a willingness to pay more for programs and services that were the most important to them. Read more

Categories: 2017-19 biennial budget, Blog, STATE BUDGET | Comments Off on Wisconsin Voters Understand Importance of Making Public Investments in Education, Health Care

Windfall: Recent Tax Cuts Deliver Big Benefits to Wisconsin’s Richest Residents

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 3:14 PM by

PizzaA series of major tax cuts passed between 2011 and 2016 has been a boon to the wealthy, giving big tax breaks to Wisconsin residents with the highest incomes. A new analysis by the Wisconsin Budget Project takes a look at the outsized tax benefit lawmakers have provided to the top 1% by income in the state, and contrasts it to the much smaller tax breaks received by residents in the other 99%.

There are several ways of comparing the size of the average tax cuts received by residents in different income groups. But in this case, all of the methods point to the same conclusion: the tax cuts that lawmakers have passed in recent years have provided much larger tax breaks to the wealthiest than to other groups of taxpayers.  The analysis examines how the tax cuts stack up in three different ways:

Measured as a share of revenue loss to the state: Out of every dollar in new tax cuts, the top 1% of Wisconsin residents by income got $0.24. Read more

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Wisconsin Bill Does Little to Protect People with Preexisting Conditions

Monday, June 26, 2017 at 5:54 PM by

Bill Passed by Assembly Fails to Close a Huge Loophole Proposed by Republicans in Congress

One of the many problems with the bill to repeal and partially replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it would seriously erode the current protections for millions of Americans who have preexisting health conditions. That’s a very unpopular part of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican health care bill, but there’s a lot of confusion about how it undermines coverage for people with chronic health conditions.

The confusion was evident during a late night debate in the Wisconsin legislature last week, when the Assembly passed a bill that would purportedly protect people with preexisting conditions, but which largely misses the mark because it fails to address a huge loophole contained in AHCA. The muddled debate after midnight on June 22nd is a great example of why there needs to be a longer and more open debate about the version of AHCA that was developed behind closed doors in recent weeks. Read more

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Out of Sync: Wisconsin Lawmakers Still in Search of Agreement on Major Components of State Budget

Friday, June 23, 2017 at 10:09 AM by

After several weeks of deliberating, Wisconsin lawmakers have settled large chunks of the state budget but are still working out disagreements in the areas of K-12 education, transportation finance, and taxes.

In the meantime, Assembly Republicans have released their own version of a K-12 education budget. A new summary by the Wisconsin Budget Project compares the Assembly version to Governor Walker’s proposed education budget, highlighting the areas in which the two versions are different. The Assembly version allocates about $90 million less in state funding overall to K-12 schools and would result in slightly higher taxes for property owners compared to the Governor’s budget. Education advocates generally favor the Governor’s budget over the Assembly’s version.

In an effort to come to agreement, Assembly and Senate leaders have been meeting behind closed doors to discuss the education budget, and news reports indicate they are close to reaching an agreement.

On Thursday, Democrats released their own plan, which would allocate significantly more funding to schools. Read more