In a misguided attempt to encourage job growth, Wisconsin lawmakers have passed dozens of tax cuts in the last few years. Those tax cuts have a poor track record: they have not done much to improve the lives of Wisconsin’s families, and the Wisconsin economy continues to create significantly fewer jobs than the national average.
Governor Walker has overlooked the failure of tax cuts to boost Wisconsin’s economy, choosing instead to double down on a strategy that has made it harder to make investments in Wisconsin’s schools, workforce, and communities. His budget proposal includes more than $300 million worth of new tax cuts, as well as deep cuts to the University System and public schools to pay for the proposed tax cuts and ones in the past.
He has proposed $319 million in property tax cuts over two years, broken down in the following way:
- An increase of $108 million in the amount of general support the state provides to school districts. The Governor’s budget would not allow districts to increase their budgets to use the additional resources in the classroom, instead requiring most districts to use that money to reduce property taxes.
- An increase of $211 million in the school levy tax credit. This amount is paid to municipalities who must pass the money through to property owners in the form of lower property taxes.
Both of these proposed property tax cuts would come in the form of increased state spending. The state would increase the amount of money it provides to local governments, and then require the local governments to pass on the money to residents in the form of lower property taxes.
The tax cuts proposed by the Governor represent a continuation of his approach of combining tax cuts with reductions in resources for schools and communities. That approach hasn’t worked in the past to boost Wisconsin’s economy, as the chart below shows, and there is little indication that it will work now.
Rather than stick with an unsuccessful approach by including even more tax cuts in this budget, state lawmakers should use those resources to make investments that would ensure that schoolchildren in Wisconsin get a solid public education, people with low incomes can see a doctor when they need one, and communities stay vibrant and safe.