Monday, April 18, 2011

More taxing thoughts

First, read this excellent report by Scot Ross and the folks at the Institute for Wisconsin's Future. The whole thing is a great study, but a few key takeaways.

The many property tax exemptions for businesses means normal residential taxpayers have to pay more of it, as part of it notes "nationwide, the average share that the business sector pays toward property taxes is 40% of the total property tax revenues.17 In Wisconsin however, the share that the business sector pays is only 24.4%." The upshot is that property taxes hit lower and middle income people hard. "As a percent of income, the bottom 20% of Wisconsin taxpayers pay 76% more [property tax] than the wealthiest one percent of taxpayers and the middle 75% of taxpayers pay 111% more than the wealthiest one percent." On top of this, higher-income earners also get a bigger tax break from paying property taxes, since they usually have more expensive homes that allow for a bigger write-off, and a higher federal income tax rate that allows them to get a higher deduction for each dollar of property tax they pay.

It also does a good job illustrating how sales and excise taxes hit the poor more than the rich. The top 1% to 5% of income earners only shell out 169% of their incomes in sales and excise tax, while the bottom 20% have those taxes take up four than 4 times that amount of income, at 6.7%. (Imagine if we ever raised the beer tax past 1969 levels!)

Corporations have gotten the better bargain when it comes to income taxes as well, as "according to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, 66.5% of corporations pay no taxes and only 20% pay over a thousand in taxes." Why? "There are 33 different tax credits available to Wisconsin corporations, including many aimed at sectors that are already experiencing record profits and don't need a tax credit." The Dem-led Wisconsin Legislature was able to cllose some loopholes in 2009, and that, combined with a huge increase in profits has raised corporate tax revenues by over 42% compared to the same time 2 years ago, but it's still only around 7% of total revenues, and given what corporations get away with in property tax exemptions, the individual is still getting the shorter straw.

To add to this report, there's also a study showing that the top 400 income earners pay all of 17% of their income in federal income taxes, down from 26% in 1992, and these people also pay a fraction of the 6.2% you and I have been paying for Social Security. While you may hear the whiny canard about 45% of people not paying any federal income taxes in 2010, those people conveniently don't mention the Social Security, excise and sales taxes that hit lower incomes hard.

The numbers help explain why Scott Walker's budget proposals to shift taxes from corporations onto lower-income individuals and college students is a sick policy. It's quite literally a feudal mentality that allows the lords and day-trading gamblers to benefit off the backs of people who actually do work. And it's a hidden theme behind the protests that have been going on at the Capitol, because people see the two-tier society at work, and are tired of it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Taxing thoughts

Just an excellent article on how the rich benefit from our tax code. Read it, especially the debunking of lie on how "the poor don't pay taxes."

There's 2 other notes I want to bring up ahead of tax time:

1. Capital gains are a disprpoportionate amount of the rich's income, because they have the extra cash lying around to gamble with. So when those are cut below incomes, it's a giveaway to the rich. And nothing more.

2. Property and state income taxes can be written off on your federal 1040. So if you're in a state like Wisconsin that has disproportionately high property and income taxes vs. others, the rich get a bigger tax break as a result. Nice, huh?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Scotty, it ain't working!

Couple of interesting state economic reports out today that continue to show that our state was and is nowhere near as bad off as Scott Walker and the Sykesists try to portray it.

First of all, Wisconsin's revenue situation continues to beat expectations. Individual income tax is up almost 10% year-to-date, and sales and corporate taxes have also stayed strong, so the state is running 6.6% ahead of last year, with a late Easter to come.

This extends the above-trend gains, so much so that if the 6.6% improvement holds up for the last 3 months, the state's revenues would be $240 MILLION over the original projections. Let me say that again, $240 MILLION.

When you put that together with the deficit-adding budget "repair" bill passed last week, the state of Wisconsin would end up with a surplus of over $220 million dollars BEFORE the extra money from state employees is counted. And then that surplus will go toward reducing the next budget's deficit, as well as give a higher revenue base to grow from in a more inflationary time. "BROKE" MY A$$!

Also, the new state unemployment numbers came in for March, and at first glance, it looks pretty good. Unemployment stayed well below the national average at 7.4%, and 9,100 jobs were added on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Sounds like things are really turning around under Scott Walker, right? Ehhh, not quite. When you grab the figures from the start of the year and compare them to what we had last year under Jim Doyle, it doesn't measure up.

Seasonally adjusted
January - March 2011- +18,800 jobs
January - March 2010- +23,300 jobs

Private sector
January - March 2011- +14,000
January - March 2010- +29,500 (that would be more than double)

Year-over-year private sector
March 2010 - March 2011 - +32,000
January 2010 - January 2011 - +47,500 (nearly 50% higher)

And we're not even mentioning the fact that there are actually 43,000 FEWER jobs in Wisconsin compared to December, but the seasonal adjustment accounts for that with the Holiday shopping season ending and construction season not in full swing. But with that in mind, Scotty better hope $4 gas doesn't kill Wisconsin tourism this Summer, because you'll start to see this + on jobs turn into a - really fast.

Jobs being lost here while the economy has been turning around nationwide would probably be enough to guarantee the recall, if it isn't baked in the cake already. Keep an eye on this the next 2 months, because it's going to prove Scotty, the Kochs, WMC and the paid hacks that back them to be even more dishonest and wrong than we already know them to be.

And way to be OWNED on the Hill today and embarass our state yet again, Gov, Dropout. Good thing that's as close to D.C. and national relevance as you'll ever get again. Bonbby Jindal respoinding to Obama's State of the Union thought that was a pathetic performance.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yep, wasn't just Madison surrounded by reality on April 5

Taking a look at the alleged vote totals from the Supreme Court race shows a state that's clearly going in two directions. But as a proud Madison graduate and resident, I must take the time to point out yet again that suburban Milwaukee votes every bit as differently from the rest of the state as Madison allegedly is.

Much like the last time I visited this issue, I'm going to combine Washington, Waukesha, and Ozaukee Counties into "Wauzaukington County", since they're all basically the same place, anyway. So you pump in the results so far in the Supreme Court race , and I'll even give Kathy Nickolaus' double-entry of Brookfield ballots the benefit of the doubt. Not surprisingly, Madison has a disproportionate amount of votes, due to the center of the protests being here and because of a County Exec race and a very close Madison Mayor's race. But so do the suburb boys, with a lot fewer local races.

Dane County- 182,201 total votes - 12.17% of all votes
Wauzaukington County - 194,841 total votes - 13.02% of all votes

And when you go further, you find these two areas basically canceled each other out in who they voted for.

Dane County- +84,929 Kloppenburg (73.3%)
Wauzaukington County- +92,929 Prosser (73.8%)

So that 8,000 vote advantage from Prosser more than makes up for the alleged current difference of 7,304. Heck, if you didn't know better, you'd swear they were just matching each other, wouldn't ya? Almost like a GOP county clerk was working to match Dane County's votes any chance she could. :P

"But Jake, what about Milwaukee, which'll skew things for the more liberal candidate?"

Glad you asked, because if you want to count Milwaukee County's unofficial numbers, we might as well also include the other 3 counties in the SEWRPC area (Walworth, Racine and Kenosha), and throw in Sheboygan for good measure, as they're in the Milwaukee media market and well within listening distance for Milwaukee hate radio. You'll "interestingly" note that Milwaukee County's barely more than Madison or Wauzaukington County in vote totals, despite having nearly twice the population, and that you get a similar mirror image.

Milwaukee County - 227,577 votes +29,711 Kloppenburg (56.5%)
Other 4 counties- 135,428 votes +17,296 Prosser (56.4%)

So with these two samples of Madison and the Milwaukee area, we have nearly half of the state's total votes, and a net difference of Kloppenburg +4,415. Conversely, this means in the other half of the state, Prosser allegedly won by a little over 11,700 votes out of over 750,000 (or by 1.55%).

If you win the "real" Wisconsin by less than 2% in a non-partisan election, I would hardly call that any kind of big-time victory or mandate, particularly when your opponent was completely unknown 2 months ago and you've been in elective office for over 30 years, as Prosser has. So if Prosser is lucky enough to survive a statewide recount without more corrupt discrepancies throwing out his votes, I wouldn't exactly call this an example of "Madison vs. the rest of the state." But then again, when you're Scotty Walker-sha, why should we expect you and your 262 area code backers have a clue what the rest of Wisconsin really thinks?

And trust me, that slam on the 370,000+ Kloppenburg voters that are from outside of the Milwaukee area and Dane County will remember when we recall you this time next year, Scotty. And so will the hundreds of thousands of others that may have sat out this election. Amazing how this dimwit forgets that over 4 million Wisconsinites never voted for him....and never will.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Fool's! Wisconsin's budget will balance just fine

I am Jake's complete lack of surprise to see the LFB admit that the "new and improved" budget repair bill will pretty much balance the 2009-2011 budget even without the forced increases in health care and pension contributions from state employees. Doing nothing at all would leave an alleged deficit of $18.675 million, which is less than .15% of the GPR budget, and given how state revenues continue to come in well above expectations, it's pretty evident that this fiscal year's budget will be in balance when it all finalizes on June 30.

But I'm willing to accept some modifications to put us in better shape fiscally. However, Walker's bill doesn't even do anything to solve those issues. Instead of accepting the thousands of state employee retirements, and using the lapses of state money by not filling those positions for the next 3 months, this "repair" bill actual decreases the lapses (i.e. allows for added spending) by $79 million. So does this mean Scotty thinks state employees really are needed? Inquiring minds want to know.

It also fills in Medicaid assistance holes to the tune of $176 million- $24 million more than first projected (think national health care might cut those costs at the state level?), but doesn't use the lapses or additional revenues to pay for it. Instead the plan is to "refinance" (read: borrow) another $165 million, which means we spend close to ANOTHER $30 million in fiscal year 2011-2013 to pay it off. Why not just use the original lapse figures and play it tight for the rest of the year if you're so fiscally conservative? Well, unless you want to blow up the budget in future years, leading to more fiscal crises and a need to take "further measures." They wouldn't sabotage things like that, would they? (oh yes they would)

And on another economic note, the latest jobs report continues to show steady growth, at 216,000 jobs for March , 410,000 in the last 2 months, and nearly 1.5 million jobs since the low point of February 2010. If you run the numbers from the 2010 Census using the 18+ population of the U.S., this means that Wisconsin's job growth should be around 7,600 for these two months if it is staying in line with the rest of the nation. Wisconsin held up well in February on the surface, with 5,200 jobs added, but that's skewed by 3,600 additional jobs in state governmnet, reflecting Scotty's cronies moving in.

Let's just say the 40+ retirements in my department in the last month makes me think that +3,600 state gov't job number will be reversed in coming months, so Scotty better hope he sees more than 1,600 other jobs a month move in, or else that 250,000 job promise will look even more empty than we already know it to be.