Gov. Scott Walker’s “Blueprint for Prosperity,” a plan to return much of the state’s $977 million net surplus to Wisconsin’s taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, is sparking a range of responses from both sides of the Legislature.
If Walker’s plan to redistribute the state’s unexpected $977 million surplus is passed, Wisconsin taxpayers can expect to see the surplus returns in several major areas.
Walker’s plan proposes a $406 million reduction in property taxes; a $101 million reduction in income taxes for families making less than $40,000; and a $322.6 million reduction in withholding taxes on income taxes.
In addition, the plan aims to deposit $100 million into the state’s rainy day fund and $35 million into the state’s technical schools, dual enrollment programs and programs to assist disabled people find jobs in the workforce.
Walker’s administration and many House Republicans have said the ‘Blueprint for Prosperity’ will boost the economy by putting money back into the hands of consumers. However, some believe the proposal is nothing more than a re-election stunt.
In the Democratic response to Walker’s address, Minority Leader Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said Walker painted a “rosy picture” of the state’s current economic situation, and that his plan for massive tax cuts was an “imbalanced approach” to continuing job growth while ensuring the future of the state’s economy.
Barca said if Wisconsin wants to continue its tradition of an outstanding education system, Republicans cannot continue to target public schools and colleges for massive tax cuts during deficits and then neglect to reinvest in education during times of surplus.
Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, said he wanted to see Walker use the money to reinvest in the state’s public schools, pay down the state’s outstanding debt and work on providing meaningful tax breaks for the middle class.
“You’ve got to be very careful on how you spend this money and that’s where I think the governor is being irresponsible. He is thinking about his re-election and not really doing some meaningful things with this money,” Jorgensen said. “Wisconsin has a whopping debt of $14 billion and I haven’t heard a lot of people talking about that and how we would use the surplus to pay it down.”
As state legislators continue to debate the implications of Walker’s plan, a main concern among Democrats and Republicans is the future $800 million structural deficit this plan will likely cause. It was this type of deficit that triggered Walker’s historic cuts to public education, Medicare along with tax hikes to Wisconsinites, Barca said.
On the other hand, the Republicans’ standing ovations and cheers during Walker’s State of the State address show that many support Walker’s tax cut package.
“I applaud [Walker’s] approach in regards to income tax withholding tables,” Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said in a statement. “These tax cuts mean the governor and the Legislature are supporting Wisconsin families and businesses with their finances.”