(The Center Square) – A deep dive into Gov. Tony Evers’ spending plan for Wisconsin reveals more than what the governor presented to lawmakers and voters earlier this month.
The Institute for Reforming Government released its report into Evers’ 2021-2023 budget on Wednesday.
The report shows not only $1.3 billion in new taxes and another $2 billion in new spending, it also highlights just where the money would go and some surprise taxes as well.
“Governor Evers’ proposed budget would bounce the Badger State backwards,” the report states. “As the economy teeters between recession and economic recovery, Gov. Evers takes from the wallets of hard-earning Wisconsinites and businesses by more than $1 billion and irresponsibly – and unnecessarily – turns a projected budget surplus into a deficit.”
The IRG broke down the governor’s proposed taxes.
The group said Evers’ biggest plans are to limit the Manufacturing and Agriculture tax credit to the tune of $487 million; change the exclusions for capital gains taxes, a $350 million tax increase; move forward with an “Internal Revenue Code Update” that would raise $540 million in taxes. The governor is also proposing to allow cities and towns with populations of more than 30,000 people to raise their own, local sales taxes.
But there are other taxes included in the budget as well, including what the governor is calling a $100 million ‘Focus on Energy’ expansion. The IRG says that’s essentially a tax that will be passed on to people through their energy bills.
As for spending, the IRG’s report questions why the governor is looking to spend so much on pieces of state government that are seeing record funding.
“Under Gov Evers’ plan – and his own budget documentation – the projected surplus of $1.8 billion will become a structural deficit of $1.3 billion for the 2023-2025 biennium,” the report’s authors wrote. “To accomplish such a feat, Gov. Evers has actually proposed spending increases beyond what his own agencies requested.”
That includes $1.6 billion more for public schools, $463 million more for public health, and $192 million more for the University of Wisconsin System.
The governor also wants to hire more than 300 new state employees, and require every agency to hire a cabinet-level equity official and an equity officer.
The Institute’s study makes the point that none of these tax increases or massive spending increases are necessary.
“Despite the global pandemic and government-mandated shutdowns of business, state finances are not as dire as other states. New revenue estimates from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau predict more than $1 billion above and beyond estimates the Evers’ Administration originally projected back in November 2020,” the report states. “The projected surplus at the end of the current fiscal year is $1.8 billion. Much of this is due to responsible budgeting including the Rainy Day Fund, bolstered time and time again by former Governor Scott Walker and the Republican majority legislature.”
Reposted from The Center Square with permission.