The $1 billion Tony Evers tax increase(s)

The last time Wisconsin had a Democratic governor, that governor increased taxes by $2 billion.

And that was after Gov. James Doyle reduced, by line-item veto, the 2009–11 budget approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Evers apparently has decided to channel his inner Doyle, as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal:

Wisconsin’s K-12 public schools would receive a nearly $1.7 billion increase in state funding over the current budget cycle under state Superintendent Tony Evers’ two-year budget proposal released Sunday.

Evers, the Democrat challenging Gov. Scott Walker in the Nov. 6 election, is calling for the state to fund two-thirds of the per-pupil cost to educate students, something that hasn’t happened since the 2004-05 school year, according to Department of Public Instruction spokesman Tom McCarthy.

(P.S. Who was the governor in the 2004–05 school year? Doyle.)

Evers’ request for $15.4 billion in state support for K-12 schools in 2019-21, up 12.3 percent from the $13.7 billion distributed to school districts in the 2017-19 cycle, is similar to what the Legislature agreed to more than two decades ago, [DPI spokesman Tom] McCarthy said.

“I think it’s been a long, long, long time coming,” McCarthy said. “You’re seeing it in referenda results around the state, people voting to raise their own taxes to support their schools. That should be a big wake-up for the state to say maybe it’s time for us to not only redesign how we fund our schools but also contribute enough money so local districts don’t have to pick up so much of the dime.”

So voters vote to increase their own taxes, and that’s a sign taxes need to be higher? Only in the diseased world of government is that the case. (And, by the way, why is someone from DPI speaking on behalf of the Evers campaign?)

Evers is calling for an increase in total aid of more than $2.6 billion over the current biennium. His proposal also calls for, starting in the second year, eliminating property tax credits that total about $1 billion per year and shifting it to general aid.

The move doesn’t necessarily mean property taxes will rise because Wisconsin has a “revenue limit” in place that effectively caps how much each school district can raise property taxes to fund operations.

Apparently the reporter can’t see through the Evers/DPI propaganda. Property tax credits go not to school districts, but to property taxpayers — the Lottery and Gaming Credit, which goes to homeowners on their principal residence; the First Dollar Credit; and the School Levy Tax Credit. So if Evers is shifting money from those credits, anyone who gets those credits (that is, homeowners) won’t get that money, which means their property taxes will increase.

Evers’ proposal also raises the revenue limit by $200 per student in the first year and another $204 in the second year. Limits vary by district but on average are between $10,000 and $11,000 per student.

McCarthy called the overall proposal “property-tax neutral,” but said changes like those could cause districts with higher property wealth to see taxes go up while the opposite would play out in lower property wealth districts.

If the revenue limit increases, allowable spending increases — in this case, given the 872,436 public school students in this state, by nearly $1.75 billion in the 2019–20 school year and another $1.78 billion in the 2020–21 school year. Given that school districts routinely “tax to the max” — that is, spend and therefore tax as much as they’re allowed to by law, because they can — that means that Evers is proposing, to quote the late Carl Sagan, billions and billions in higher taxes in this already- and still-overtaxed state.

Remember as well that Evers wants to get rid of Act 10, which saved taxpayers $5 billion in the five years after it was enacted. If Act 10 goes away and public employee unions are able to mandate their own taxpayer-funded benefits, taxes go up more billions of dollars.

This is how Tony Evers is working together … to make Wisconsin once again number one in state and local taxes.

 

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