Steve Walters, the former Capitol bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has a question for Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker, based on a February 23 speech Walker gave before members of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. In his remarks, Walker noted he wanted to lower the “tax on employers,” but as Walters notes, that creates an interesting conundrum for Walker:
Walker: “I want to lower the tax on employers…”
First clarifying question: By “employers,” Scott, do you mean all Wisconsin businesses?
If so, you’re referring to the “corporate income and franchise” tax, which totaled $629.5 million last year, and is projected to go up — by 11 percent — to $700 million this year, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Democratic legislators, who said they were closing a “Las Vegas” tax-avoidance loophole, and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle last year raised taxes paid by large, multi-state companies.
Specifically, will you recommend cutting — or even abolishing — the $700 million corporate income tax?
Or, were you referring to payroll taxes businesses pay to finance unemployment benefits? If so, remember that Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance fund is out of cash, after paying a record $3.2 billion in jobless benefits last year.
Right now, Wisconsin has borrowed $1.1 billion from the federal government; by the end of the year that debt is expected to be $1.9 billion, which doesn’t include interest (that must be added in 2011).
There are only two ways to repay the federal loan, experts say: Raise taxes on employers, or cut benefits to the jobless. Which of those two changes — and what exact changes — are you recommending, Scott?
So which is it…will Scott Walker raise taxes on employers or cut benefits to the jobless?
Given Walker’s clear disdain for average working folks (especially if they happen to work in some level of government), I’m betting Walker would cut benefits to the jobless, lest he incur the wrath of the very same folks who support WM&C.