Browsing: State Budget

Wisconsin’s top marginal income tax rate—the rate that matters most to the state’s economic competitiveness—remains among the highest in the country. Moving to a flat tax would substantially improve Wisconsin’s tax competitiveness. Separately, repealing the personal property tax would reduce compliance burdens for taxpayers and administrative burdens for the state. As policymakers work on the next biennial budget, each of these policy changes deserves thoughtful consideration.

As the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee begins budget deliberations, Gov. Tony Evers is pushing for a $31.6 billion budget for Medicaid over the next two years, a $4.2 billion biennial increase. The $27.4 billion being spent on Medicaid in the current two-year cycle already represents nearly 30% of all state spending.

Tucked away in Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget is nearly $3 million for a new cabinet-level chief equity officer and 18 new equity officers assigned throughout state government departments and agencies. The governor’s request comes at a time when diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs are under fire in higher education, business and in government for fundamental unfairness and divisiveness and a failure to achieve their intended goals.   

Teaching is a complex task, at its best a performing art. You get summers off, but you’re grading papers at night all winter, drawing on depths of patience and stamina. You’d qualify for sainthood if you gave 100% every day as your employer’s check showed indifference. Act 10 freed districts to quantify their appreciation for diligence. Teachers responded to the appreciation. This is right and just.

Wisconsin can — and we think has to — do a lot more to compete with our neighbors. That’s where competition has to take place and with much of the rest of America. Or, watch our children and our neighbors move to states with more jobs and better wages, more opportunity and more prosperity. And those who are left behind at all levels are going to have fewer jobs, less opportunity, and more of the tax burden. People who are left behind are going to bear more of the tax burden. So, to us, the choice would seem clear.

My hope for 2023 is that every legislator in Madison will talk to somebody in their district who lost their small business or their job, and ask why.

Shouldn’t be hard to find them.

Between March of 2020 and March of 2021 — the last period of time for which I could find data — 17,364 Wisconsin establishments opened and 13,698 closed, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Almost all of those were small businesses.

The Legislative Audit Bureau criticized the state Department of Administration for its lack of openness in how it is deploying $5.7 billion in federal health emergency funds granted to Wisconsin.

The audit report, released Wednesday, comes months after the Badger Institute first called for a comprehensive audit of all state spending of funds provided through the CARES Act, American Rescue Plan Act and the Investment and Jobs Act.

Using billions of emergency pandemic bill dollars to plug gaping holes in their budgets, local governments across Wisconsin and the country are setting themselves up to ask for tax increases or slash services as basic as police and fire protection when the federal funding runs out. 

Newsmakers Host Lisa Pugh sits down with Wisconsin Association of School Boards Director of Government Relations Dan Rossmiller and Badger Institute consultant and member of the Wisconsin Coalition for Education Freedom, Jim Bender, for a discussion on the state of schools.