WHAT IS THE KEY TO WISCONSIN’S ECONOMIC SUCCESS?
The July 7, 2016, Price County Review described Governor Walker’s June 29 visit to Phillips as a blitz. He flew in, was ushered to the Municipal Building by law enforcement and security personnel for an invitation-only listening session for 20-30 people and a brief interview by local media, was escorted to United Pride Dairy near Phillips to announce $3.2 million in Youth Apprenticeship (YA) state grants, then was escorted back to the airport and flew away.
During his announcement, Walker noted “The key to Wisconsin’s future success rests in our ability to provide the next generation of workers with the practical skills they need to succeed. That’s why we continue to make investments in workforce development programs like Youth Apprenticeship and Dual Enrollment.”
The grants are a good thing, helping over 3,600 Wisconsin youth gets hands-on training at work sites while earning an average wage under $10/hour. The YA program, established in 1991, is part of the statewide School-to-Work initiative.
Another breaking story in the news on June 28 puts a whole different light on Governor Walker’s policies on investment in our next generation of workers. The Wisconsin Budget Project (WBP) story on the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit (MAC) (http://www.wisconsinbudgetproject.org/the-big-giveaway-costly-tax-credit-has-done-little-to-boost-employment) reveals that this legislation, signed into law by Walker in 2011, nearly wipes out Wisconsin taxes for manufacturers and agricultural producers at a very steep price.
As it was phased in, MAC cost Wisconsin $15 million in 2013; $79 million in 2014; $152 million in 2015; $206 million in 2016; and will cost $284 million in 2017.
WBP cited information released by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau that shows under the MAC, 11 individual filers who make more than $35 million in gross income will each receive almost $2 million in cuts in 2017, with the ability to spread the credit over a 15-year period.
This WBP chart based on Wisconsin Department of Revenue information shows the credit goes mainly to the wealthy:
For incomes of $1 million and up, there is a $27,632 tax credit.
For incomes of $300,000 to $1 million, there is a tax credit of $958.
For incomes under $300,000, there is a tax credit of $5.
The WBP reports the MAC has had little effect on the rate of job growth in Wisconsin. We’re about at the national average for manufacturing job growth both before and after the credit. WBP’s report points out that there is no requirement in the MAC law that businesses add new jobs in order to receive the credit, and even companies that lay off workers, send jobs overseas, and close factories are eligible to claim the credit.
Comparing the dollar amounts Governor Walker is spending on these two programs – $3.2 million to help 3,600 youth versus $284 million for a handful of millionaires – puts some perspective on his priorities. Let the Governor and your state legislators know we need to stop accelerating wealth inequality with trickle-down tax policies that don’t work for the majority. We need to invest more in education, infrastructure, small businesses, middle- and low-income families, and our communities, not big giveaway programs for the rich like the MAC.
All Wisconsin Legislators can be called on the toll-free Legislative Hotline: 1-800-362-9472
Governor Scott Walker
115 East, State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702