Another Tax Windfall, Another Tax Giveaway?

With the economy booming:

The state is expected to take in $753 million more through the summer of 2021 than earlier estimated, giving lawmakers a small windfall as they work on the state budget.

Well…first of all…these are always estimates based on current trends. So really…there is no guarantee this will actually happen between now and 2021. But given the current environment in Madison…no one wants to agree on what to do with this windfall should it occur.

Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday he would use $56 million of the additional money to immediately pay off debt, which he said would save millions  in the long run.

The Democratic governor said he wanted to spend $33 million of the remainder on technical colleges and worker training and put what’s left into the state’s rainy-day fund. Under that plan, the state would likely set aside more than $650 million that it could tap into during the next downturn.

This is surprisingly conservative for a Democratic governor…but I will agree with him. Paying down state debt and building the rainy day fund makes a ton of sense. We have been in an unprecedented economic boom period with no certainly that it will last much longer.

But who can let a surplus amass without screaming tax cuts?!?

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said their caucus would also consider using the funds to reduce taxes.

But it gets even more interesting on the GOP side of the aisle…some want all of the money in the rainy day fund and some none of it…my oh my.

Under existing law, $291 million of the additional money would automatically go into the state’s rainy-day fund. 

But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau said he wants to pass a bill that would prevent that sum from going into the rainy-day fund.

But GOP Rep. John Nygren of Marinette, the co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee, said he wants to put all of the additional revenue in the rainy-day fund. 

My vote? A version of Governor Evers’ plan or Rep. Nygren’s plan. Not knowing when the next recession is going to hit, it isn’t unreasonable to set aside unanticipated tax revenues. It will certainly be a lot easier to deal with unanticipated tax shortages sometime in the future.

But apparently, nothing is going to come easy in present day Madison.


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6 thoughts on “Another Tax Windfall, Another Tax Giveaway?

  1. Higher revenues are not because of a booming economy. It’s a one-shot deal because the rich and corporate hoarded profits and incomes until 2018 due to the cuts and changes in the GOP Tax Scam. If you read the revenue projection, the LFB only counts on a total of $160 mil of improvement for 2020 and 2021, which is less than 0.5%.

    Some minor boosts to spending are still in order, but there would be a lot more opportunity for investment if the rich and corporate paid the same taxes they did 5 years ago. Instead, not enough change will come in this lagging state.

  2. Thank you Jake for your extensive grasp of the facts and your innate and sublime ability to relate them to the rest of us. State citizen of the year award would go to you if my voluntary and appointed town government position (20 years of service) allowed me the opportunity to nominate you (or create the award category).

  3. Does our Republican Legislature know how to bring forth a budget without an overindulgence of public money being divvied up for private interests? What is the difference between appropriating the money for rainy day or the governor using the veto pen to hold money in the general fund?

    1. 1. Using the treasury to give tax cuts and subsidies to your donors while taking them away for the less fortunate is central to 21st Century Republicanism.

      2. Putting money in rainy day fund prevents it from being used immediately, and can be kept away to cause more budget cuts. Carrying over money gives you a cushion when the Trump Recession hits in the coming months.

      1. Agreed,it would be nice if we could have what should be a bi-partisan consensus to fund Rainy Day. The political reality of our era is that the Republicans want to spend more money than the Democrats do.

        Evers is right to focus on other more pressing issues for people such as health care coverage. Hopefully a compromise can be struck and we get medicaid expansion for the people of Wisconsin.

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