In an April article from the Capital Times, the sad state of Wisconsin’s Budget under Scott Walker was put on full display:
“In 2009-10, 11 percent of the state’s transportation revenue went to interest on its debt. Now it’s 20 percent and is projected to climb by about 1 percent each year if the state continues to borrow as it has, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The total amount of transportation-related debt the state owes has nearly doubled over the last decade, from $2.6 billion in 2007 to $4.4 billion in 2017, according to the LFB. Transportation projects now make up 45 percent of total state borrowing, up 10 percentage points from a decade ago.”
Why has this happened? The answer should sound familiar to anyone who has been paying attention to Republican governance over the last 40 years: tax cuts and tax credits for businesses and the wealthy that were issued with a promise that a booming economy would make up for the lost tax revenue and tax credit giveaways. In short: Trickle Down Economics. It hasn’t worked in Wisconsin. It hasn’t worked anywhere it has been tried. Yet, they keep trying.
Since taking office, Scott Walker has enacted a slew of tax cuts and tax credits that have severely cut into the State’s tax revenue.
Just looking at some of the larger cuts and credits, one can see that there was the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $1.4 Billion since enacted; the Combined Reporting–Pre-2009 Loss Sharing for Businesses Tax Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $286 Million since enacted; the Capital Gains Deferral for WI Business Investments Tax Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $158 Million since enacted; the Capital Gains Exclusion for WI Business Investments Tax Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $85 Million since enacted; the Income Tax Rate Cut, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $1.9 Billion since enacted; and the Private School Tuition Deduction, estimated to have cost Wisconsin $150 Million since enacted.
As can be guessed, these tax cuts and credits have overwhelmingly helped the wealthy.
So, has giving all that money to the wealthy helped Wisconsin’s economy? Not when it comes to jobs. Wisconsin’s job growth has consistently been in the bottom half of US States under Scott Walker’s leadership.
Now, you might ask, has Wisconsin’s job growth always ranked the in the bottom half of US States? Nope.
So, Scott Walker’s tax cuts don’t seem to have helped the economy at all. If anything, they’ve made it worse. What these tax giveaways to the wealthy have most definitely affected is the ability for Wisconsin to pay for things that are used by the majority of the population, like roads and schools. Anyone who has driven in Wisconsin recently can probably provide anecdotal evidence of the sad state of the roads, but there is further evidence to back that up. From that same April Capital Times article comes this sobering assessment of Wisconsin’s roads:
“In February, U.S. News and World Report ranked Wisconsin 44th in the country for its road conditions, a slight improvement from its ranking of 49th last year.”
And, though the State’s teachers have been doing a phenomenal job of keeping Wisconsin’s heretofore excellent academic standards in place, there are some ominous clouds on the horizon if the school funding situation enacted by Scott Walker remains in place:
“Since Scott Walker took office in 2011, education policy has become a point of tension for the state. Most critics point to Act 10—which limited public employees’, including teachers’, ability to bargain with employers over wages and benefits and was enacted shortly after Walker took office—as the first shot of a seven-year-long battle between the governor and the state’s teachers. As many as 100,000 people took to the streets of Madison in protest. Since the law was enacted, median public-teacher pay in the state is down 2.6 percent, districts ratcheted up health-care costs for educators to recoup the millions of dollars that were cut from the state’s budget, and Wisconsin teachers are leaving the profession at a rate above the national average, according to the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund. Public schools in the state have yet to return to 2011 funding levels, adjusted for inflation.”
The choice is clear for Wisconsin voters this November: do they want to continue down Scott Walker’s path of Trickle Down Economics that has showered businesses and the wealthy with tax cuts and tax credits at the expense of the State’s roads and schools, with no discernible benefit to the economy? Or do they want to go back to the Wisconsin that provided top notch infrastructure and schools for the majority of the population? Scott Walker is pretending to right some of the wrongs of his previous eight years, but one rather large issue should give anyone pause if they might believe he will stop his preferred philosophy of Trickle Down Economics, and that issue is Foxconn: a $4 billion taxpayer giveaway to a foreign company that is just beginning. Wisconsin, if you allow Scott Walker to continue governing, what kind of a Wisconsin are you going to be left with?