Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More lottery sales = a choice between lower property taxes or less state spendng

Recently the Wisconsin Department of Revenue put in their annual request to set the Lottery tax credit that goes to homeowners, and it featured a couple of surprising figures.

Turns out the Wisconsin Lottery ended up beating the prior (lower) estimates, with instant scratch games ending up $2 million above the predicted amounts for Fiscal Year 2017, and lotto games sold an additional $3.4 million. This, combined with a minor decrease in expenses, means that the projected credit for 2017-18 will be $7.5 million above what was projected in the just-signed state budget.

That may mean your property taxes get a few dollars bumped off of them this winter, but I have a better suggestion for what to do with this extra money.

More than we thought

As part of the GOP’s desperate desire to claim “lower property taxes” ahead of the 2018 elections, they added TAX DOLLARS to pay off retailers (see item number 5 of this rundown from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau), instead of having the Lottery be entirely self-sufficient.

By an interesting coincidence, $8 million of those tax dollars are to be spent in this fiscal year. My suggestion is simple- why not go back to using zero tax dollars, at least for Fiscal Year 2018, and keeping the lottery credit at basically the same level as we were already counting on?

Oh, but then the GOP might not be able to try to take credit for the additional $6.50 you'll "save" on your property taxes in 2 months. Sure, you’ll be paying higher taxes in other areas and/or have fewer services, and it'll get worse next July 1 when that number jumps to $40 million for Fiscal Year 2019. But hey, the GOPs got their talking point to trick a few of the rubes!

If Dems on the Joint Finance Committee wanted to bring this to the public’s attention, they’d object to this request and force the JFC to meet to discuss the Lottery Credit. And if they were really cool, they'd combine that compliant with the inevitably lousy results that will come out of the information that will be released with next week’s audit of the deficit-ridden Veterans Trust Fund (HINT!).

But I figure this shell game will eventually slip by, and $8 million of Wisconsinites’ tax dollars will be funneled into the lottery, despite the fact that better-than-expected sales in 2017 mean that there is no need to spend that money. These are conscious choices by our “representatives”, and voters should question why they’re being made.


  1. Why all this gambling mania to be included as an essential element of Wisconsin's economy and taxation?

    I personnally don't care for gambling, am really annoyed by waiting behind people at convenience stores to buy all their tickets to a potential dream. This whole scenario justifies Trump logic. Why is our economy stuck with gambling?

    Why can't people, educated and those that don't have the money to pay for education, all be part of an economy that sustains everyone?

    I'm tired of gambling, it's not fascinating like James Bond stories lead you to believe. Get real...

    1. I don't mind gambling as an industry and recreation, but I agree that it is silly that we use the Lottery as a method to lower property taxes. There's no real social good that is being invested in with these funds, it's just a payback to a section of our economy, largely favoring the middle and upper classes.

      And now we are using TAX DOLLARS on top of this all for political talking points? It's bad policy.