Breaking with Tradition: How Wisconsin Lawmakers Have Shortchanged a Legacy of Investment in the State’s Future
Since 2011, a majority of state lawmakers have turned their backs on Wisconsin’s long and proud history of investment in education, health care and other assets that once ensured the state’s civic and economic progress.
Three major tax cut packages passed by the Wisconsin legislature in the last year have delivered relatively little benefit to the lowest earners, who are struggling to make ends meet. In dollar amounts, the largest tax cuts went to the Wisconsin taxpayers who earned the most.
Income inequality continues to grow in Wisconsin and the United States, producing an ever-widening chasm between the rich and the poor. Over the last 40 years, Wisconsin’s richest residents have experienced dramatic increases in income, while Wisconsinites not among the very highest earners saw their incomes stagnate or decline.
A proposed constitutional amendment that would restrict state revenue could make it more expensive to maintain roads and bridges and finance other building projects by raising the state’s borrowing costs.
Many low-income Wisconsinites will get relatively little benefit from the Governor’s proposal for using the state surplus, even though part of that surplus comes from reduced spending for the tax credits intended to help low-income families.
Legislation to use the projected surplus should target some of the funding to improve the Homestead Credit and the state Earned Income Tax Credit, or at least undo the damage done to those credits in the 2011-13 budget.
Wisconsin legislators have introduced an unnecessary constitutional amendment that would make tax reform more difficult, could deepen recessions, and potentially make it more expensive for the state to invest in roads, bridges, and building projects.