Empower Wisconsin | Feb.1, 2022
Madison — Conservative organizations are urging caution as Gov. Tony Evers rolls out his plan to spend a big chunk of the state’s projected $3.8 billion surplus on a $150 “refund” for every Wisconsinite. Calling Evers’ latest spending plan an “election year gimmick,” The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy and Americans For Prosperity Wisconsin warn:
- The so-called “surplus” is only a surplus because of the unprecedented, ONE-TIME $58 billion federal covid aid
- Gov. Evers has proposed billions in tax increases during his term
- Gov. Evers criticized Legislative Republicans when they proposed the largest income tax cut in the state’s history before he eventually signed it
- Now, in an election year, Gov. Evers tries to take credit for the tax cut and pretends he wants to do more
- Now, instead of cutting taxes further, he wants to give a temporary $150 to Wisconsinites and to increase government spending
- State government spending has increased dramatically in the last ten years; taxpayer money should go back to taxpayers through permanent tax reform, not an election-year gimmick.
Just two days after the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported the state is on pace to finish the 2021-23 biennium (in June 2023) with a balance nearly $2.9 billion better than expected, Evers announced he wants to blow much of it on election year checks.
A family of four would get a quick $600.
Taxpayers would also be on the hook for future government spending. Evers is proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in cash for K-12 schools, the University of Wisconsin System and child care tax credits.
“While it is good news that state government has a surplus, the Wisconsin taxpayer needs to be weary of politicians making grandiose promises during an election year,” said Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute. “While we believe it is better to return money to the taxpayers instead of letting it be spent by Madison bureaucrats, this plan does not provide the lasting, meaningful tax relief that hardworking Wisconsinites deserve.”
Big spender Evers is itching to get at the projected surplus.
“This is the people’s money and sitting on the people’s money for another year and a half makes no sense,” the governor said at a Capitol press conference.
It’s actually the taxpayers’ money, said fiscal hawk Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield).
“Every Wisconsinite gets $150? Well, not every Wisconsinite is paying taxes. If you want to give it to taxpayers, give it to taxpayers. Don’t play Candy Man,” Kooyenga said.
Evers says his election-year checks will “help address rising costs at the gas pump and checkout lines.”
But the drunken spending going on in D.C. and the costly policies of Evers’ fellow Democrats in control of the federal government have driven the soaring inflation Evers says he’s trying to fight.
“It’s ironic that Governor Evers is once again taking credit for the Legislature’s efforts to cut taxes and rein in spending, after he has proposed massive tax hikes and increases in government spending in both of his budgets,” said Eric Bott, state director for Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin. “It’s even more ironic that Governor Evers cites rising inflation in his proposal, when he continues to support the inflation-driving spending policies in Washington, D.C.”
“Instead of using this one-time money to provide temporary and fleeting relief, we should have a conversation about genuine and substantial tax reform that will transform Wisconsin and leap-frog us ahead of our midwestern neighbors,” Bott added.
Republican leaders say they want to wait to see if the record projected surpluses pan out. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and others have talked about a “massive tax cut.”
“Let’s use this opportunity to make long-term structural tax changes that actually shrink the size and scope of government. Let’s pursue true tax reform that lets taxpayers keep more of their money from the start, when they earn it, not just when there is a temporary surplus in an election year,” Healy said.