WISTAX out to scare schools, public

The conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance issued a release yesterday regarding their recent report titled, ‘€œState budget woes mean school, taxpayer problems’€ that’€™ll probably scare the bejesus out of, well, schools and taxpayers.The guv and legislature had a difficult task of making over $3 billion of cuts in the budget in the midst of a nationwide economic collapse. In its latest release, WISTAX points out the state aid cuts to schools and tries to take a poke at the legislature for repealing the unfair law that made teachers second-class citizens when it came to bargaining. Offering no real evidence of any impending problem, WISTAX says school districts can deal with it in three ways: ‘€œdip into reserves to cover the losses; trim budgets to reflect the revenue reduction; or’€”to the extent allowed by law’€”increase school property tax levies.’€ It’€™s no surprise that WISTAX focuses on the latter on the three.

It’€™s easy to rile and anger folks about taxes: we look at our paychecks, see what we earn, see what is deducted, see the bottom line, and see red. It’€™s more difficult to see and appreciate what our taxes pay for. Public education is a taxpayer-financed investment that is returned in the form of an educated, first-rate workforce, advanced research and technology, and an informed citizenry. There is no bottom line to look at.

As a note, this is hardly the first time WISTAX has used phantom speculation to advance its conservative tax agenda. We remember when Berry and gang pulled out some nonsense that the state’€™s tax rank would jump because of the state budget passage, acting as though 47 other states hadn’€™t had to increase revenues to deal with the nationwide economic collapse caused in large part by tax and deregulation policies pushed by the corporations represented so prominently on WISTAX’€™s board of directors.

We know that board. It’€™s the one we at One Wisconsin Now reported that gives over $288,000 to Republican and conservative candidates‘€”nearly 92% of its overall giving.

That WISTAX tends to look only at the bottom line in its releases is telling. That this echoes the corporate agenda of its board members demands more scrutiny by the media of the information it produces.

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