As Governor of “America’s Dairyland” Scott Walker will wager a block of cheese on that our state’s sports teams will beat yours. But when it comes to actually supporting our home state agriculture industry Scott Walker is largely absent. In fact he’s pushed for massive, budget busting tax breaks for corporate mega-farms and to make it easier for foreign corporations to buy up massive tracts of family farmland.
Wisconsin’s sweeping tax credit that shields manufacturers and farmers from paying state income tax hits its apex this tax year following a three-year implementation plan of progressive rate hikes.
“It’s not just that this scheme is infinitely more expensive than advertised, it’s that Walker’s slashed public education and higher education funds… to pay for these trickle down policies,” said Scot Ross, executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a liberal advocacy group.
A measure tucked into Gov. Walker’s 2011 budget that effectively eliminated state income taxes on owners of factories and farms in Wisconsin is costing way more than predicted and contributing mightily to the current budget shortfalls. The Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit was hailed at the time as a job-creating effort that would let businesses invest the savings in new hires and equipment. But recent figures from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau show the credit will cost the state at least $275 million in additional lost tax collections over the next biennium, or more than double what was originally estimated.
Wisconsin Realtors look to be next in line to benefit from Gov. Scott Walker’s “Wisconsin is open for business” vow.
While there has been no shortage of speculation behind what is driving Walker’s proposal to loosen restrictions on land purchases by buyers from outside the U.S., Thomas Larson, vice president of legal and public affairs with the Wisconsin Realtors Association, takes some of the credit.
Whether or not more is at play in the land sales provision remains to be seen, but Larson says the organization was made aware of the land-purchasing limitations in state law and “let the governor and other legislators know about it.”
“We want to encourage people to buy property,” Larson says. “It seemed strange to us that we would have a provision in state law that prevents land ownership.”
Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposes lifting a longtime prohibition on foreign ownership of large tracts of land in Wisconsin — a change that some legislators believe will allow other countries to gain too much control over some of the world's best farmland. The current law, enacted in 1887 and upheld by the state Supreme Court in 1976, bars foreign individuals or corporations from owning more than 640 acres in the state...But two Republicans are among legislators who oppose the proposed changes, saying the current law does a good job of protecting state economic interests.
Slipped into Gov. Scott Walker's 2011-2013 budget at the last moment, the domestic production tax credit will cost the state $360 million in revenue over the next four years and some $130 million each year thereafter, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Critics warn the impact could be even greater, a key point in a state still struggling with budget shortfalls. The credit applies to profits derived from manufacturing or agriculture and is available both to corporations and shareholders of limited liability companies, S corporations or others who report business income on their individual tax returns. As a result, top bracket taxpayers could see their state income tax rate fall from 7.75 percent to less than zero by 2016, when the credit fully kicks in. That's because any unused credits can be counted against other income, like stock dividends, and carried over for up to 15 years.
Farmland in western Wisconsin would be hit particularly hard by changes to a new farmland preservation program in Gov. Scott Walker's proposed state budget, the leader of a state agriculture organization said...The farmland provision in the 2011-13 state budget would eliminate the Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement, or PACE, program, which permanently leases development rights for farmland under pressure from development. The budget provision would wipe out $12 million, matched by funding from local governments or nonprofit land conservancies, that would be available for agricultural leases. The measure also would eliminate a conversion fee that penalizes landowners who rezone agricultural land and allow it to be developed. Eliminating the conversion fee would make it easier for developers to buy agricultural land and continue farming, while paying low taxes, until they are ready to rezone and develop that property, Schultz said.