Walker’s Plan for State’s $2 Billion Deficit: ‘Let’s Make It $4 Billion’

What Cuts to Wisconsin Families Would Walker Make to Pay for Bush-Style Tax Breaks for Rich People, Corporations?

MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker wants to double Wisconsin’s projected $2-billion state budget deficit with a series of tax breaks that mostly benefit corporations and high-income people.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported Wisconsin faces a $2 billion deficit in 2011-13, making Walker’s budget-busting tax breaks for the rich a doubling of the state deficit.

“Scott Walker has pledged almost $2 billion in failed George Bush-style tax breaks to the rich and corporations,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “That’s an impossible promise to keep unless that $2 billion is coming directly from the services that middle class families, seniors and our children depend upon. The people of Wisconsin deserve to know how Walker plans to pay for the tax cuts he’s promised.”

Despite the grave budget projection, Walker has repeated four specific budget-busting schemes as the cornerstone of his agenda for Wisconsin:

  • Slash income taxes for the top one percent of income earners who make more than $225,000 a year – two-year budget cost: $287 million.
  • Reopen the “Las Vegas Loophole” which allows Wisconsin businesses to shelter their tax obligations to Wisconsin families through phantom “offices” in states without corporate income tax – two-year budget cost: $375 million.
  • Repeal changes made to the capital gains tax deduction, despite the fact 70 percent of capital gains filings are from those earning more than $200,000 a year – two-year budget cost: $243 million.
  • Shelter the assets of the wealthiest Wisconsinites even more by a radical end to tax paid on retirement income, regardless of income – two-year budget cost: $920 million.
  • [Legislative Fiscal Bureau , 2/23/09, 7/8/09, 1/25/10; “Upfront,” WISN-TV, 11/8/09; La Crosse Tribune, 11/24/09]

TWO-YEAR COST: Walker’s $2 billion + $2 billion projected deficit = $4 billion

“Scott Walker’s promises would be ridiculous any year, but given the deficit this is a literal impossibility,” said Ross. “Walker would have to gut the programs our children, seniors, schools, local communities and the middle class rely upon to hand our money over to fat cats and bankers. It’s a simple question Walker needs to answer: how does he pay for it?”

In order to keep his impossible $2 billion promise, Walker would need to slash critical programs such as:

  • Ending health care assistance to over 100,000 families (two adults, two children) per year enrolled in the state’s BadgerCare programs.
  • OR
  • Wiping out the $1.86 billion shared revenue program, resulting in either sky-high property tax increases or severe cuts to local services, like shutting down police and fire stations and inadequate snow removal and road repair.
  • OR
  • Firing 14,000 dedicated public school teachers, ending Wisconsin’s long commitment to providing a high quality education to our children.
  • OR
  • Cutting nearly all funding to the University of Wisconsin System, pulling the rug out from under our sons and daughters’ futures and jeopardizing a strong, educated workforce for the future.

“Scott Walker’s election-year promises have consequences in the real world,” said Ross. “Every dime of ours Walker wants to shower on the rich has to be accounted for.”

Walker repeatedly criticized responsible efforts by the governor and the legislature to deal with the historic $6.6 billion deficit in 2009 without having providing any specific remedies. Walker’s response was to join Sarah Palin in the outrageous call for states to reject federal Recovery Act funds.

To date, Wisconsin has appropriated $2.76 billion in Recovery Act funds for job creation, schools, transportation, health care, energy and public safety among other critical needs. Over 44,000 Wisconsin jobs have been created, retained and funded through the Recovery Act funds Walker wanted the state to reject.

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.