MADISON, Wis. — One Wisconsin Now’s WISTAX Watch is asking the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance to explain why its latest report focusing on fee increases in cities and villages ignores county governments. The state is in the midst of a gubernatorial campaign between Milwaukee’s conservative county executive, Scott Walker and Milwaukee’s mayor, Tom Barrett.
“It defies logic that WISTAX focuses on cities but not counties, given its history of lumping taxes together in its annual total tax reports,” said Scot Ross One Wisconsin Now Executive Director, “WISTAX goes so far as to single out the city of Milwaukee for special coverage to get headlines advancing its conservative agenda.”
The latest WISTAX report makes the case that fee hikes are even more rampant in our municipalities than increases in property taxes. The omission of county data is particularly striking considering the annual WISTAX “Total Wisconsin Taxes” adds together all property taxes, regardless of municipality, as well as including sales, room and specialized taxes levied by counties.
According to figures from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, total fees in Milwaukee County have increased 125 percent from 2002-2007 under Scott Walker’s administration. In 2002 during Walker’s first year, total fees were $177 million and by 2007 the fees had climbed to $400 million. Transit fees in particular have skyrocketed under Walker to among the highest in the nation – fees for adults, seniors and the disabled have all increased by 50 percent under Walker. In the 2010 Milwaukee County budget alone, Walker proposed at least $5 million in fee increases. [Wisconsin Department of Revenue; Milwaukee County Transit System; WISN-TV, 11/9/09]
“WISTAX Watch intends to keep a vigilant eye on the conservative leanings of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance,” said Ross. “From the $1.3 million in donations to conservative and Republican candidates made by its board members from the last 15 years, to the 15 of the last 33 board members who have also served on Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce’s board, WISTAX Watch intends to hold it accountable for its conservative, pro-corporate agenda on taxes and public investment.”
Modeled after One Wisconsin Now’s successful WMCWatch.org site, the goal of WISTAXWatch.org is to provide the media and public with information about the conservative, pro-corporate agenda of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, as well as debunk its alleged independence and lastly, expand the debate on budgeting and taxation issues in Wisconsin.