MADISON, Wis. — State Sen. Randy Hopper, who paid state net income tax but once over a 10-year period, is having a big money fundraiser this evening hosted by a developer who was sued by the City of Oshkosh for non-payment of $328,000 in property taxes owed. Hopper is being feted by Oshkosh developer Ben Ganther, who in 2007 settled with the city for half of the tax bill he owed after refusing to pay property taxes for a development project that included $2.2 million in taxpayer-funded public dollars.
“Birds of a feather really do avoid taxes together,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Randy Hopper doesn’t think corporations and rich people like himself should have to play by the same rules as middle class taxpayers and it’s going to cost us $2.3 billion over the next 10 years.”
Hopper was a chief architect of the state budget, currently before the legislature, that guts public education by $1.6 billion, slashes the University of Wisconsin System by $250 million, cuts $71 million from the Technical College System and raises taxes on the working poor by $60 million. Hopper has supported plans for tax breaks for corporations and the rich that according to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, will cost taxpayers $2.3 billion in the next decade [Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 6/11/11]
In addition to these plans, Hopper has introduced legislation to repeal recent changes to the state’s generous capital gains loophole and end capital gains taxes all together in three years – at an annual cost of $250 million a year. Hopper has also authored a discredited scheme to hand out as much as $400 million in unaccountable financial sector tax breaks. Hopper’s $400 million scheme was withdrawn after bipartisan denunciation. [Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Act 28, 8/09; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/29/11]
Hopper’s near-decade of tax avoidance was first uncovered by One Wisconsin Now in 2008. An article at the time noted that Hopper not only paid state income tax just once in ten years, but also had three businesses, which also paid no net state income tax. According to the article, “In 2006 he paid $22,752 in state tax due, he said, to capital gains from the sale of one of the two radio stations he owns in Sheboygan.” [Fond du Lac Reporter, 10/24/08]
A 2011 analysis by One Wisconsin Institute, entitled “We’re Not Broke” showed through current loopholes and shelters, that two-thirds of Wisconsin corporations pay no state income taxes.
“All of these issue raise the question, how much less than nothing does Randy Hopper thing big corporations should pay?” asked Ross. “Randy Hopper’s idea of ‘shared sacrifice’ is that the middle class and our kids sacrifice and big corporation share our tax dollars.”