Harsdorf: Budget “Repair” Bill Taxing
Column by WI. State Sen. Sheila Harsdorf :
With the state facing a $600 million shortfall in the current budget year, the Governor’s budget “repair” bill does more in taxing than repairing. This week, Legislative Democrats passed the Governor’s proposal through both the State Senate and State Assembly with no changes. Tax increases carried the day in the budget repair bill, with $37 million in immediate increases in the next several months and over $250 million in ongoing tax increases.
Regrettably, the budget repair bill does little to fix a state budget that is facing historic shortfalls. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the “repair” bill still leaves a $416 million state budget shortfall. This emergency budget bill felt more like a new legislature flexing its partisan muscles by imposing nearly $290 million in new tax increases.
It included new taxes on hospitals that will be paid for by sick patients and a new $215 million tax increase on Wisconsin businesses. These increases – at a time that businesses are struggling to keep their doors open – are the wrong medicine to fix our ailing economy. Job providers are struggling to make ends meet and working families will be part of the fallout from a budget bill that makes keeping and growing jobs in Wisconsin even harder.
The budget repair bill comes on the heels of the introduction of the Governor’s 2009-2011 biennial budget bill introduced February 17. The Governor’s budget address called for a gas tax increase of $270 million, new tax increases on top earners and small businesses of $312 million, and $181 million in new taxes on investors. It is chock-full of tax and fee hikes.
In the midst of a recession, new taxes on businesses and investors will send a strong message to job providers that they are not wanted here. Wisconsin should – and needs to do better. Raising taxes during a recession is the wrong prescription!
We need a new approach that moves Wisconsin forward by improving our tax climate and using federal stimulus dollars to target job growth – not one that props up a spending agenda taxpayers’ cannot afford. In the coming weeks, I will be working with my colleagues to offer proposals to grow jobs; but it will help if we get a commitment from legislative Democratic leaders that they will embrace a bipartisan approach instead of shutting us out.
Let me know what you think state government should be doing to deal with its budget shortfalls? Call me at 1-800-862-1092 or send me an email at Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov.