2013-15 All Things Budget
Workers in Wisconsin and across the U.S. must still cope with a relatively weak labor market. That is especially challenging for low-wage workers who are struggling with the declining value of the minimum wage, reductions in employer benefits like health care, and growing inequality. Those challenges are exacerbated in Wisconsin by budget decisions made by state lawmakers.
One of the very disappointing things about the biennial budget bill is that fiscal conservatives who espoused responsible budgeting two years ago seemed to forget many of those principles this year.
Wisconsin’s 2013-15 budget bill employs a “Robin Hood in reverse” strategy for allocating resources. This issue brief explains ten significant examples of how the new budget shifts funding from the poor to the wealthy.
Looking at the budget through the lens of how it affects children and families we see much more harm than good.
The budget passed by the Legislature’s budget committee includes a significant income tax cut and new resources for tax enforcement.
The budget cuts $17 million in the first year, and $14 million in the second year, compared to the 2012-13 base level for child care.
The budget makes significant changes to public education in Wisconsin, particularly by expanding the voucher program statewide. The budget bill includes a small boost in spending for public schools, but the increase is small enough that schools will continue to lose ground to inflation.
The budget partially closes the current gap in BadgerCare by extending eligibility to all adults below the poverty level who don’t have children, while cutting in half the current income eligibility ceiling for parents and caretakers.
The budget bill assumes that participation in W-2, the work program for unemployed low-income families, will decline by 1% every month. But new data for April and May show that W-2 participation did not decline by 2% during that period; it rose by 6.2%.