Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Walker's World vs. Falk's Great Dane, by the numbers

I saw that Lt. Gov. Mini-van was shooting her mouth off about Kathleen Falk's record in Dane County and chided her as a tax raiser. Forgetting about the fact that a dimwit like Becky Kleefisch couldn't run a staff of 5 let alone the second-largest county in Wisconsin, it inspired me to go to the numbers, and take a look at how Falk ran her county at the same time that Scott Walker was running his.

So, let's go to Lt. Gov. Mini-van's first comment, about tax increases. And by the raw numbers, Kleefisch (or at least the handlers that told her this stuff) may have a point, as Dane County taxes went up quite a bit more than Walker's Milwaukee County when both Falk and Walker were county execs, budgeting from 2002 to 2011.

Property tax levy 2002-2011
Dane County $90.145 million 2002, $133.069 million 2011 (+47.6%)
Milw County $218.735 million 2002, $269.555 million 2011 (+23.2%)

And if you were a right-wing radio host (or stupid enough to listen to one), you'd stop the discussion there and Falk raised taxes twice as much as Walker did, and you'd also leave out that Milwaukee County's total taxes increased more than Dane County, ($50.8 mil vs. $42.9 mil.) Fortunately, this isn't a right-wing talk show, and there's a really good reason Dane County's taxes went up more. A lot more people were choosing to live in a place run by Kathleen Falk instead of a place run by Scott Walker.

Population change 2002-2010
Dane County +49,192 (+11.21%)
Milw County +6,644 (+0.71%)

Gee, you think you might have more taxes when you add 42,500 more people than the other place? Of course you will. And that growth and better desirability of Dane County shows in other ways. Dane County income growth that was nearly triple that of Walker's county, and property values went up more 5 times faster in Falk's land during the turbulent 2000s.

Median household income, 2002-2010
Dane County $51,230 2002, $58,958 2010 (+15.08%)
Milw County $38,436 2002, $40,582 2010 (+5.58%)

Median home sales price (from the Realtors for 2006 and 2010)

Dane versus Milw
$178,000 $121,300 2002
$214,600 $158,700 2006
$207,000 $125,000 2010 (Dane +16.3%, Milw +3.05%)

So now that Kathy Falk's Dane County massively outperforms Walker's Milwaukee in economic and population stats, let's go back to the property taxes and see what happened for the everyday homeowner in these places.

Property taxes for median home sales price
Dane County $562.48 2002, $565.11 2011 (+0.47%)
Milw County $638.38 2002, $558.75 2011 (-12.48%)

Property taxes/ median home as % of median HH income
Dane County 1.10% 2002, 0.96% 2011 (-0.14%)
Milw County 1.66% 2002, 1.38% 2011 (-0.28%)

Difference in taxes isn't so different isn't it? Yes, Walker reduced taxes on the median homeowner, but that number is still a higher income tax rate in Milwaukee County than Falk's Dane County, and both "cut taxes" if you use a % of income as your basis. This doesn't even mention that if you were the average homeowner in Dane County, your home value went up a lot more, you weren't nearly as underwater as a Milwaukeean if you bought in 2006, you made nearly 50% more money, and that income grew much quicker under Falk than Walker. I'd think the better growth and stability would be well worth the $7 in higher property taxes that you'd pay in Dane County.

Even more remarkable is that with the huge increase in Dane County population leading to people causing a bigger demand for services, Falk's Dane County spending increase wasn't all that much more than Walker's, and was much LESS per person.

Total change in spending 2002-2011
Dane County +34.19% (+$120.713 million)
Milw County +31.46% (+302.014 million)

Total change spending per capita
Dane County $804.40 2002, $970.66 2011 (+20.67%)
Milw County $1,020.00 2002, $1,331.52 2011 (+30.54%)

Yep, Walker's spending per person went up significantly more than Falk's, Walker just benefitted from taking more revenues from other surces (i.e. the state and the feds) and also increased debt service by $47 million while Falk was only increasing it by less than $8 million. So much for the "Walker cut spending and was fiscally responsible in Milwaukee" argument, eh?

So if Kathy Falk is the Dem nominee, the GOP will try to use the same old tired "tax-and-spend" BS that they tend to do, and will try to tell one-sided stats to prove their point. Now you know that Scott Walker actually increased spending more than Kathy Falk did in the same time period, and got much less bang for the buck in the process, because Dane County boomed while Milwaukee County stagnated. Much like a lot of other things that we find when we compare Walker World with the actual one, it's usually better off to live somewhere where people kick in a few dollars to maintain and grow their services, than saving a handful of bucks and ending up a whole lot worse off.

1 comment:

  1. There is a reason Walker NEEDS a huge fundraising advantage. Great post!