In early February, Republican lawmakers began a last-ditch effort to once again pass their bill aimed to cut income taxes by $250 million.
In this bill, income taxes could be cut by an average of $106 for the majority of people filing their taxes in Wisconsin. Married couples would expect an average cut of $145, and others would see a $81 cut. It also aims to cut property taxes for manufacturers and cut the state’s debt. This bill would affect 64% of residents in Wisconsin, which is approximately two million people.
While this at face value may seem positive news to those filing their taxes in Wisconsin, this comes at a cost Democratic legislators are unwilling to accept.
All four Democrats on the finance committee voted against the passing of the bill. The $250 million tax plan intends to cover lost revenue by using the state’s estimated $620 million budget surplus, money that Democrats intended to use for public schools.
Gov. Tony Evers proposed a plan to use $250 million to fund schools in Wisconsin, including a property tax cut of $130 million. This was widely opposed by Republicans who believed their plan would be far more beneficial for hard-working families.
Furthermore, they believe the current state budget of approximately $565 million is enough.
Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls said teachers have to learn to live within a budget just like businesses and families.
This is clearly both a problematic and flat out inaccurate sentiment. Teachers are one of the most underpaid workers in the country. In Wisconsin, teachers are paid an average of $54,998 a year, which may seem modest, however, considering the amount of work and dedication it takes to be a teacher it is still a grossly underpaid profession. With this in mind, of course, they out of everyone would know what it’s like to live inside their means.
The current education budget is clearly not enough to provide quality education for children living in Wisconsin. Wisconsin currently ranks 9th in terms of public education, meaning more than half the states have better public education systems in place. It also ranks an incredibly low 27th place in terms of safety in schools. Moreover, overworked — and underpaid — teachers contribute to Wisconsin’s overall abysmal ranking.
It is imperative we do something about this. The current state of public schooling in Wisconsin calls for direct action, not some rushed together plan whose only real aim is to irk Democratic legislators. A good start would be to expand Wisconsin’s education budget and pay teachers more for their services.
Opposing Ever’s school funding plan actually goes against the hard-working families Republicans seek to support. A family’s biggest priorities include the type of education their children receive, and therefore depriving them of quality education will not help them in any way.
One of the primary aims of the $250 million tax cut plan is to stimulate the local economy, therefore boosting local businesses and overall positively impacting Wisconsin. However, this tax cut plan could end up resulting in the exact opposite happening. As public facilities, — including the likes of public education and Wisconsin’s poor roadways — continue to degrade, families will end up moving out of Wisconsin in order to provide a better environment for their children and themselves.
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As people leave Wisconsin, this will inevitably have a detrimental effect on the local economy. It does not matter that people are paying marginally lower taxes in Wisconsin. If there is no incentive to stay in the state besides it, those with the means to move — and consequently, those who pay higher taxes — will do so.
The Republican tax cut plan was vetoed by Evers. But Republicans have vowed to continue pushing this plan forward. It is imperative we prevent this happening even after Evers leaves office, all for the future of Wisconsin and families that choose to live here.
Samiha Bhushan ([email protected]) is a freshman studying neurobiology and English literature.