Supermajority Plan Likely to Put Local Governments in a Bind

January 6, 2012

The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families looks forward to working with Governor Walker and the new legislature to come up with sensible solutions to the state’s budget challenges. However, we are concerned about the Governor’s tax proposals, particularly the supermajority requirement. We do not believe this approach will promote responsible budgeting or avoid future state deficits. The special session tax proposals, if enacted, would dig Wisconsin’s budget hole even deeper, while limiting the state’s options for climbing out of that hole.

Requiring a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature for tax rate increases is likely to result in damaging budget cuts, including cuts in state expenditures for property tax relief. Although the supermajority requirement would hold down taxes on income, sales and corporate profits, it will put upward pressure on fees and local property taxes. As a result, many taxpayers may not benefit much financially, while the services they rely on would almost certainly suffer.

The supermajority requirement would allow a small minority of lawmakers to block any proposal to increase sales or income tax rates, even a revenue-neutral proposal to reform the tax system. If the legislature approves the Governor’s supermajority proposal, Wisconsin would begin to follow in the footsteps of California, which is well known for a dysfunctional budget process and huge deficits. Read the full press release.