The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
My Republican colleagues have been suspiciously quiet this summer about two proposals they floated near the end of session that would take more from Wisconsin consumers and taxpayers. These plans matter, as they you are likely to see them resurface again next year.
Special interests sought to impose the highest sales tax in the nation on working Wisconsinites. Coupled with a plan to increase property taxes by nearly $600 million to expand private voucher schools it’s no wonder GOP policymakers aren’t talking about their combined plans to shift taxes onto the backs of Wisconsinites who work for a living.
The sales tax would skyrocket to 8% under the GOP plot. As the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau notes in a memo outlining the plan: “If Wisconsin’s sales tax rate were increased to 8.0%, it would have the highest state rate among surrounding states and the highest state sales tax rate in the country,” adding that an “increase in the sales tax rate could result in higher prices for consumer products and lower incomes for Wisconsin workers.”
Why would the GOP want an increase in the sales tax? To eliminate the state’s income tax in a scheme that would increase taxes on 28% of households while running up massive deficits in the budgets ahead.
A Senate colleague currently running statewide put forward a bill designed to put the first part of the plan, eliminating the income tax, in motion. Publically, little was heard of the bill or the sales tax plan again. The Fiscal Bureau memo provides a clear snapshot of what that would look like for working families in the Badger state:
More than 874,000 households would see a tax increase – and that’s assuming the wholloping sales tax increase went only to 8%, not the 12% or more the Fiscal Bureau indicates would be needed to eliminate the deficit the GOP would create.
Another GOP bill introduced earlier this year would hit those same workers with a $577 million property tax increase. Why? To give students already going to private schools a free ride at taxpayer expense. Worse, for most property owners the full bill will come at your expense come property tax time.
As the Department of Public Instruction noted in its analysis of the bill: “The impact on property taxpayers in applicable school districts could be as high as $577.3 million for the 2022-23 school year, assuming 67,869 additional voucher students.” For comparison, $577 million is equal to roughly 11% of the total property taxes paid for schools.
The highest sales tax in the nation, staggering deficits and 11% more in school property taxes. It’s no wonder you aren’t hearing anything from Republicans in the Capitol about their plans to add to your tax burden and lighten workers’ wallets. That is, until next year, when Republicans again try to quietly drop this scheme into the budget at your expense.
– Erpenbach, D-West Point, represents the 27th Senate District.