- Wisconsin’s budget surplus has exceeded $7 billion, and the Governor announced details of his proposal to reduce taxes by around $1.2 billion in the next two-year state budget on Sunday, Feb. 12.
- Evers’ new plan of the proposed $1.2 billion in tax cuts for the middle class will require approval from the GOP-controlled Legislature.
- Recently, Majority Leader LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have suggested adopting a flat income tax system with a rate of 3.25%. Evers has already expressed his opposition to the idea.
- After the Governor’s State of the State speech last month, Robin Vos said Republican lawmakers would likely throw out all of Evers’ proposals and instead create their budget from scratch.
- Evers proposed that counties and over two dozen large Wisconsin cities should be allowed to ask voters to raise the sales tax to pay for local services, i.e., police, fire protection, and road repairs.
- Evers directs attention to funding free meals for public school students, investing in more mental health support for students, and the increased suicide rates during the pandemic. He did not bring up proficiency or the future success of public school students.
Wisconsin’s budget surplus has exceeded $7 billion, and the Governor announced details of his proposal to reduce taxes by around $1.2 billion in the next two-year state budget on Sunday, Feb. 12. The plan targets the middle class. In contrast, Devin LeMahieu proposed a flat tax system that would impact all tax brackets.
Individuals making less than $100,00 and married couples or joint filers making at or below $150,000 would benefit from the proposal. The Governor stated that the proposal could provide $839.6 million over the budget for low and middle-income individuals with an average decrease of more than $200 annually for 1.9 million filers.
Evers commented about his plans in a news release, “I’ve said all along that we’d deliver real, responsible tax relief targeted to the middle class and working families, not spending big on breaks for the wealthiest 20% of earners in our state who do not need the extra help affording rising costs.”
While the Governor says he has always supported delivering relief to the working people and Wisconsinites who need it the most, his actions have yet to be entirely on par with the picture he paints of himself.
Tony proposed a budget back in 2019 that would have increased taxes by $1.3 billion over two years. He also said the proposed budget was “pretty close” to not raising taxes. He then claimed there “may be some small tax increases” when interviewed on WTMJ radio.
The Governor also hit about 90,000 businesses, plenty of them being small businesses, with a surprise tax on the PPP forgivable loans that were supposed to help them survive the lockdowns and restrictive orders resulting from the pandemic.
Evers’ new plan of the proposed $1.2 billion in tax cuts for the middle class will require approval from the GOP-controlled Legislature. Recently, Majority Leader LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have suggested adopting a flat income tax system with a rate of 3.25%. The most significant tax cuts would be seen by those who owe the most taxes, AKA those earning the most money in Wisconsin. However, the flat tax would also positively impact all other brackets and is a lower rate than the bottom rate, which is 3.54%.
Evers has already expressed his opposition to a flat tax system publicly, and it’s likely to be vetoed by Evers in its entirety.
After the Governor’s State of the State speech last month, Robin Vos said Republican lawmakers would likely throw out all of Evers’ proposals and instead create their budget from scratch. Tossing the Governor’s plan wouldn’t be surprising, as they did the same thing for the governor’s budget proposals during his first term in office.
Republicans curbed his plan to increase taxes by over $1 billion by developing their own plan, ultimately resulting in the most extensive tax cut package in Wisconsin history. Evers signed it and took credit for the GOP’s tax-slashing plan, the most significant tax cut in Wisconsin history.
The ultra-progressive Governor Tony Evers and GOP leaders have typically always butt heads over fiscal policy. The opposing views on tax cuts for Wisconsinites are just one part of a long list of disputes over spending the budget surplus. Wisconsin also has a reserved rainy day fund of $1.7 billion.
Evers Hinting Increase in WI Sales Tax
Governor Evers proposed that counties and more than two dozen larger Wisconsin cities should be allowed to ask voters to raise the sales tax to pay for local services, i.e., police, fire protection, and road repairs.
Evers wishes to support local governments with 20% of the state sales tax or 1% of the 5-cent sales tax charged per dollar. That equals about $576 million in the first year. Future payments would increase. All Wisconsin counties are now able only to levy a half-cent sales tax.
Evers commented, “The state must fulfill our obligation to ensure our local partners can meet basic and unique community needs alike, and this historic investment will ensure we do.” He adds, “I look forward to working with the Legislature to find common ground in the weeks and months ahead to fund our communities now and with growth into the future.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has repeatedly opposed sending Milwaukee more funding without the city instituting spending reforms; the same goes for public schools. Vos, along with many other right-wing lawmakers and officials, would like to see the Governor consider universal school choice before agreeing to more funding for public schools.
Evers Eager to Spend State Surplus on Public Schools
Evers has been blowing up his Twitter feed with plans and ideas to spend the state surplus. Unfortunately, many of the ideas are repeats of what he initially promised voters before he secured his first term as Governor.
The comments section featured many concerned citizens saying the surplus should be returned to the taxpayers. Others stated he didn’t accomplish his goals during his first term and wasn’t capable of keeping communities safe.
He also shares more information about his plans for the students in Wisconsin public schools. He brings up virtually everything except proficiency, grades, and future success. For example, he touts offering more mental health care and a food program to ensure students have something to eat while at school, and he also pointed out how the COVID-19 pandemic caused students to see a spike in suicide and attempted suicide.
School food programs and food programs, in general, are inherently wasteful. Research indicates that 40% of the food supply is wasted, valued at around $218 billion. Schools tend to be a big part of the food waste issue, as the USDA’s National School Lunch Program supplies food to 30 million kids each school day, and it’s reported that the program wastes about $5 million worth of edible food every school day.
The research above does not suggest that school lunch programs are bad or aren’t helpful for a portion of children, but there will be a lot of money and food wasted when you go this route, and it is something to consider if he is going to be using a portion of the state surplus to fund these programs.
His idea was met with criticism, with parents saying its the parents’ job to feed their children and they are capable of doing it themselves; others mocked him for claiming he cares about the wellbeing of Wisconsin youth, like this user who shed light on his stern anti-life policies:
Evers directed attention to the rise in suicide during 2021 and was oblivious that it wasn’t COVID that encouraged youth suicide rates to spike. It was the incredibly isolated, lonely lives they were forced to live. It was having their routine and schedules ripped away from them with strict lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. It was being cut off from their support systems, like their friends and family members. They were placed in a box, their world was flipped upside down, and they were expected to be strong and were essentially told to deal with it for the “greater cause.” The increased suicide statistics among youth reflect that. It wasn’t so much the pandemic itself, it was the loneliness, depression, and psychological distress that came with it.
The Governor was relentless with his attempts to isolate Wisconsinites during the pandemic, and those actions had reprocussions. Not only concerning the mental health of Wisconsin youth, but also the success of businesses across the state.
“People across our state are still out and about unnecessarily that are putting our friends, our neighbors, and our communities at risk,” Evers tweeted. “Please #StayHome and help us save lives.”
“Stay at home” translates to “no sleepovers, no play dates, and no dinner parties with friends and neighbors,” according to Gov. Evers.
Evers said he thought the phrasing “shelter in place” could possibly be misinterpreted while “stay at home” was more clear and direct. “Stay at home means stay at home,” Evers stated.
While supporting mental health and eating lunch is essential for students across the map, the real problem with Wisconsin public schools is the curriculum and proficiency rates. Ensuring that the students of Wisconsin are being taught what they need to know and moving core subjects, like reading and math, back to the top of the priority list. Less than half of Wisconsin public school students were proficient in math and reading in 2022; with the massive amount of money being shelled out to the public education system each year, these results are unacceptable.
Evers Proposes Includes Brewers Stadium Renovations in State Surplus Budget
Evers announced another plan to spend around $290 million to repair and update American Family Field under a deal with the Brewers, including extending their lease through 2043.
Speaker Robin Vos tweeted, “When the Bucks had a similar situation, Democrats and Republicans worked together to find a solution on the best path forward. Instead, Governor Evers drops this bomb in the budget, never mentioning or attempting to collaborate with the Legislature in any way.” This isn’t the first time Evers has decided to keep the Republican Legislature in the dark, as he held a closed-door meeting with only Democratic mayors regarding shared revenue just a few weeks prior to this.
Evers is constantly touting that he can work with both parties for the greater good of Wisconsin. However, he has failed to show any signs of eagerness to collab with the GOP so far in 2023.