Monday, October 1, 2018

Latest Walker gimmick is an unfunded property tax giveaway to the old people he is losing

Over the weekend, Tony Evers came out with a reiteration of a number of “good governance” measures intended to stop the corruption and election-rigging that have been a central part of the Age of Fitzwalkerstan.

So the man trailing Evers in the Governor’s race decided to come up with a policy plan of his own this morning.
[Scott] Walker's plan calls for expanding the state's Homestead Tax Credit -- which aims to blunt the impact of property taxes and rent for low-income people -- for seniors claiming it.

For people age 62 or over, Walker's plan would boost the annual credit amount from $1,168 to $1,752 and raise the income threshold to qualify for it from $24,680 to $37,020.
Actually, this is the same Homestead Credit expansion that Walker announced 2 weeks ago, but Scotty wanted to get his name out there today, I guess. However, this new/old scheme lends itself to a lot of questions.

First of all, are there really a lot of people age 62+ who are still in the “working poor” level? And if so, isn’t that a bigger problem that goes well beyond the amount of property taxes they have to pay? The answer is "apparently a lot", if you look at the estimated cost of the credit from a couple of years ago.
Walker's increase for a tax credit aimed at helping low-income seniors who own homes would be tied to inflation in future years and would cost $61.8 million in the first year and $72.7 million in the second, according to the Department of Revenue.
At $500 a person, that means roughly 120,000 to 145,000 people tax filers in Wisconsin are 62+ and living that close to the edge financially. That's not really a sign of an economically thriving state.

Next, where’s the money coming from to pay for this and the many other giveaways Walker has already promised if the voters are foolish enough to give him a third term? We know that there is already a General Fund structural deficit around $1 billion, another $1 billion of unmet needs in the Transportation Fund, $623 million needed just to pay for the extra needs in Medicaid and other parts of the Department of Health Services that will happen over the next 2 years, and nearly $150 million to pay for needs in Corrections (and that Corrections request includes $46 million cut in permanent salaries, meaning more OT and understaffing!).

In addition to the $62 million for the Homestead Credit for seniors plan, Walker also wants to throw another $116 million in 2021 to other tax gimmicks, and that number grows big-time from there.

And oh yeah, the 2019-21 is when the Foxconn tax credits are slated to massively expand, at a projected cost of $469 million.

Because Walker refuses to give up on sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (so he won’t take the expanded Medicaid funding that would save at least $200 million a year) or end the "Big Giveaway" M&A credit to manufacturers, agri-business and mega-millionaires (which would save around $334 million a year, based on amounts from this Fiscal Year), there will have to be major cuts and buck-passing in other services to make these proposed giveaways even come close to working out under the current budget. Which means Walker is either making another empty pre-election promise, or there’s some kind of other scheme that he and other WisGOPs are hiding that would destroy the chance he has left if he revealed it.

In addition, I have strong suspicions that this new Homestead Credit expansion proposal isn’t related to a concept of good economic policy, but instead are related to these numbers in the most recent Marquette Law School poll.

Voters 60+
Approve of Walker’s performance
Yes 39%
No 58%

Walker vs Evers
Evers 56% (58% with leaners)
Walker 37% (37% with leaners)

It’s very much like how Walker looked at his (and the GOP’s) sinking poll numbers with suburban women, and decided to do one-time pre-election gimmicks like a $100-per-child tax credit and an increase in per-pupil aids (which disproportionately help richer, growing schools over poorer ones in stagnant areas).

And in a story about a new Walker ad that (coincidentally!) is also about the Senior Homestead Credit reminds us that the Homestead Credit was taken away from thousands of Wisconsinites just last year.
In the 2017-19 budget, Republicans limited the credit to those 62 or older, those whose spouse is 62 or older, those with disabilities, and those with earned income, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. GOP lawmakers also indexed the maximum income threshold starting in tax year 2018.
There’s no coherenent strategy with this career grifter other than “get power and keep me in power.” Outside of the donor class, Walker just sees poll data and demographics and doesn’t care about what 99% of people’s everyday lives and needs are. And he always assumes the needs come back to some kind of tax cut or temporary spending that can quickly be cut back again as soon as the election ends and/or the economy slows down (which seems likely for 2019).

Can we end this rampant dishonesty and economic illiteracy on November 6 before this state is wrecked for good by this clueless Dropout? Thanks.

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