Wednesday, March 8, 2017

This is why following the Wisconsin LFB is important

The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau is the state's version of the Congressional Budget Office- a non-partisan organization that provides information to the State Legislature on proposed bills and effects, and "scores" various tax proposals. And this week, they released their analysis of Governor Scott Walker's budget. You can click here to see the budget proposals without spin and in plain language.

An example of what the LFB can find is from this segment in the Shared Revenue and Tax Relief section. The Governor wants to put in the gimmick of a sales tax holiday before school begins in 2018, no matter how stupid and pointless such a move is. Well, the LFB notes a provision in the budget also extends that sales tax holiday to local communities whether they want it or not.
Currently, 63 counties collect the county sales and use tax (effective April 1, 2916, Kewaunee County will be the 64th county to impose the tax) and five counties in southeast Wisconsin collect the [Miller Park sales tax]. In a fiscal estimate attached to a similar school supply sales tax holiday bill...DOR estimated that local (county and baseball district) sales tax revenues make up approximately 7.2% off state sales tax revenue. Using this percentage, the estimated sales and use tax revenue decrease for counties and the [Miller Park] district could range from $750,000 to $800,000 annually.
Even worse, there is no provision in Walker's budget to make up the difference, so those local communities would have to raise property taxes or cut services by he amount that they lose from this sales tax holiday.

Even worse is what happens to the six tourist-based communities that have a premier resort tax- an extra sales tax that they can levy to take care of the extra services those places with a low year-round population need (this includes communities like Wisconsin Dells and Bayfield). Those areas would also lose their money during this sales tax holiday, but the DOR has not given any estimate on the additional funding that would be lost from those places.

As mentioned, another key item the LFB performs is tax bill analysis, estimating not only the revenue changes from a certain bill, but the effect on Wisconsin taxpayers of all income levels. And today the LFB released its analysis of Governor Walker's talking point of a 0.1% income tax cut in this budget. And it's even more ridiculous than we even imagined.

LFB stats on Walker income tax cut
Amount of taxpayers getting a tax cut 70.3%
Average tax cut for 2017 $44
Total revenue loss in FY 2017-18 $104.4 million
Total revenue loss FY 2018-19 $99.1 million

So the LFB is saying that the average Wisconsinite will get a tax cut of less than $1 a week, while reducing available funding by over $200 million in this budget. yeah, you can keep my money and FIX THE DAMN ROADS INSTEAD. Or pay for K-12 schools. Or help local communities keep cops on the street and libraries open. Seems like a much better use than this stupid tax cut gimmick that won't do anything to help anyone's bottom line or I prove our economy.

And that's why I check the LFB website several times on a daily basis, to find out new information and send the word ahead. I encourage you to do the same, especially as the budget is debated over the next 4 months.

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