The Five Worst State Budget Ideas of 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011 at 7:44 PM by

In 2011, the Legislature made many ill-advised budgeting decisions, decisions that will have long-term negative effects on Wisconsin’s ability to create family-supporting jobs. The Wisconsin Budget Project takes a look back at 2011 to identify the five worst budgeting ideas of the year.

#5: Shortchanging our economic future
A well-educated workforce is critical to laying the groundwork for the state’s economic future. We should be committing resources to building our educational system, to ensure that the children of today will be productive workers in tomorrow’s economy. Instead, the Legislature made very deep cuts to K-12 education, so deep that Wisconsin has the unfortunate distinction of cutting more education dollars per student than almost any other state in 2012. That’s no way to build future prosperity.

#4: Tax cuts that primarily benefit corporations and the well-off
The Legislature prioritized tax cuts over investing in Wisconsin public education, transportation, and safe communities. These tax cuts add up to more than two billion dollars over the next ten years, every dollar of which has to be made up in deep cuts in the kind of investments in our communities that really matter. That’s a bad deal for Wisconsin.

#3: Tax hikes for the working class
The Legislature increased the amount of income taxes and property taxes working-class people pay, by making significant cuts in two targeted tax credits. The result is that seniors will find it harder to stay in their homes, and low-income workers will find it harder to support their children.

#2: Restricting access to health care
If we want to build a strong economy for everyone, we need to make sure that workers have access to health care. Instead, the Legislature gave the executive branch the green light to make changes that would result in more than 64,000 working people and children losing their coverage – a number that represents more people than live in the city of La Crosse.

…and the worst budget idea of 2011:

#1: Slamming the brake on the state’s economic engine
If we want to create jobs and build a better economy for everyone, there’s no better way to do that than investing in our state’s higher education system. UW-Madison alone contributes more than $12 billion to the Wisconsin economy and supports 128,000 Wisconsin jobs. Instead, the Legislature made deep cuts in support for the University of Wisconsin and the technical college system. The result: higher education in Wisconsin will become less affordable, the university system will attract less in outside investment, and we all lose.

Let’s hope for a brighter 2012.

Tamarine Cornelius

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