Walker's proposed budget spares no one in Wisconsin from devastating cuts

June 8, 2011
Defend Wisconsin

State Budget Update (from June 8, 2011)

Editor’s Note: Thanks to State Representative Terese Berceau, who sent out the following state budget update in an e-mail on June 8, 2011. Information about the budget is regularly changing as the State Legislature meets to discuss and vote on the legislation.

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) has concluded its work on the Governor’s 2011-13 state budget proposal.  In the coming week, the Assembly will consider the budget.  It will then go to the Senate. Here is a quick list of provisions in the current version of the budget, organized by issue area.

Taxes & Borrowing

  • Increases taxes on middle class families by nearly $69.8 million
    • Increases property taxes on seniors and working families by $13.6 million by reducing the Homestead Tax Credit, affecting 247,000 homeowners and renters
    • Raises taxes on low-wage workers with children by $56.2 million as a result of cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Reopens corporate tax loopholes that will cost the state $93.8 million and will allow big multi-state corporations and wealthy investors to avoid paying taxes
    • Over the next 10 years, when fully implemented, these tax cuts will reduce revenue by over $1.3 billion, shifting even more of the tax burden onto working families and increasing property taxes
  • Borrows $1.8 billion to fund projects and uses questionable accounting gimmicks to delay debt payments, which will force the state to pay millions in additional interest
  • Doesn’t address the cost of the ten or so lawsuits that are likely to result from this budget
  • Fails to account for lost tax revenue that will surely result from individuals and businesses altering their actions due to this devastating budget

Health Care

  • Cuts $500 million from Medicaid programs like BadgerCare and Family Care
  • Reverses cuts to the SeniorCare prescription drug program proposed by Governor Walker, but doesn’t expand the program beyond 2012
  • Caps enrollment in Family Care, making it much harder for seniors and people with disabilities to stay in their homes and live independent lives
  • Cuts state funding for programs that provide immunizations and cancer screenings as well as services for those with autism, diabetes, and heart disease
  • Strips $1 million per year in state funding for women’s healthcare centers statewide by defunding Planed Parenthood

K-12 Education

  • Cuts funding for public schools by $1.6 billion statewide
  • Nearly doubles the income limit for school voucher programs, which will allow wealthier families to receive state assistance to send their children to private and religious schools
  • Reduces local school transportation assistance
  • Eliminates funding for reading specialists, despite the literacy problems that many districts face
  • Uses a cookie-cutter model for allocating school funding that will result in poorer school districts losing money while some wealthier districts will receive additional funding
  • Eliminates funding for successful school programs such as advanced placement (AP) classes, alcohol and drug prevention programs, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)

Transportation

  • Raids segregated funds by cutting funding for road aids to local governments by $48 million yet providing over $400 million in additional funding for transportation projects in SE Wisconsin

Local Government

  • Reduces funding to local governments by $76.8 million, forcing local communities to cut services
  • Chips away at collective bargaining rights of police officers and fire fighters and jeopardizes the safety of communities by eliminating maintenance of effort requirements
  • Strips local elected leaders of flexibility to manage cuts

Higher Education

  • Reduces state aid to the UW system by $250 million over the biennium
  • Cuts funding for Technical Colleges by 30%, which will eliminate many of the job training programs that Wisconsin’s workforce needs
  • Eliminates the Wisconsin Covenant program, which provides financial aid to students who get good grades and pledge to stay in Wisconsin to attend college

Economic Development Programs

  • Cuts funding by 42% for the Wisconsin Main Street program, which has helped to create over $1.1 billion in economic development activity across the state and add 17,900 new jobs
  • Deletes funding for the Rural Economic Development program
  • Ends important agricultural efforts like the Farm to School program, which help local farmers better market their products

Environment

  • Eliminates the Green Space grant program, which helps local governments and tribes clean up brownfield sites, and cuts more than half of the funding for the Brownfield Site Assessment program, which helps clean up land contaminated by industrial waste
  • Exempts industrial polluters from requirements to provide notification when they release wastewater with possible contaminants
  • Raids millions from Wisconsin’s renowned Stewardship Fund and shifts the money to other programs, making it more difficult to preserve our state’s unique natural resources for future generations

Clean Government/Clean Elections

  • Eliminates public funding for Supreme Court races, which was meant to ensure judicial impartiality and the integrity and independence of Wisconsin’s courts
    • Eliminates the state income tax check-off, so no public financing will exist for any campaigns
    • $1.8 million already contributed through the tax check-off option will now go toward implementation of the new voter ID law
  • Cuts significant funding for the Government Accountability Board, which investigates election misconduct and state government ethics violations

Consumer Protection

  • Reopens payday lending loopholes and reinstates predatory auto title lending in Wisconsin
  • Removes tenant protection in foreclosure cases, meaning tenants do not have to be notified if their rental property is in foreclosure

Other Provisions

  • Designate February 6th as Ronald W. Reagan Day (even though Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times while President!)
  • Loosen Wisconsin’s child labor laws significantly
    • Under the current budget proposal, teenagers will have effectively no limit on the number of hours they can work during a given week; while teens will be prohibited from working during school hours, 17- and 18-year-olds will be employable upwards of forty hours each week!  (Children under 16 years of age will be capped at 40 hours of work per week.)  I fear this change will result in teens working more and more hours each week and earning lower and lower grades as a result.
  • Create a sales tax exemption for junk mail (because who doesn’t want to make it easier for junk mail to be sent to their house?)
  • Reopen the “Las Vegas Loophole” in part, which will allow corporations to do business in Wisconsin while avoiding corporate taxes by claiming that they are based in another state, such as Nevada, without a corporate income tax
    • This will create an uneven playing field for “mom and pop” businesses here in Wisconsin that will now bear a disproportionate burden of the corporate income tax.
  • Earmark $10,000 for a new Sheboygan space station (“Beam me up, Scotty!”)

 

More Resources about the Budget

Here are some other resources that provide analysis of the bill’s provisions.

The Budget’s Impact on Wisconsin Working Families

Read our latest blog post from the Wisconsin Budget Project (from June 14, 2011).

Legislative Fiscal Bureau

A non-partisan agency of the Wisconsin State Legislature, click here for its 2011-2013 Budget Papers.

Government Budget Analysis – A Participatory and Interactive Approach

The Campaign for the Public Interest has created an informational resource that people can use to inform themselves and others about the impact of the budget cuts.

Wisconsin Budget Project

A project of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. Their analysis focuses on the impacts for families and children, click here (last updated on June 8, 2011).

UW System

A summary of the proposed changes to the UW System included in the budget bill, click here (last updated June 7, 2011).