Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wisconsin Loses More Manufacturing Jobs as GOP tax giveaway hits $299 million a year

MADISON – Late last Friday afternoon, Governor Walker’s Department of Workforce Development released new data showing that Wisconsin has once again lost thousands of manufacturing jobs.  According to the data, Wisconsin added just 11,590 private sector jobs in 2016 with a growth rate of 0.5%.

Those numbers mark the slowest job growth of any year since Governor Walker took office. The dramatic dip in manufacturing job creation comes at nearly the same time the so-called Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit is now fully phased in, at a projected cost of almost $300 million this year. By the end of the next budget, the credit is projected to have cost the state a total of $1.4 billion over six years.  Despite its misleading name, the credit does not require that a single job be created.  Three out of four individuals who claim the giveaway as income tax are millionaires.

“These latest jobs numbers once again confirm that Governor Walker has been a miserable failure at fulfilling his promises to create jobs,” said Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. “The fact that the Governor waited until late afternoon before a holiday weekend to release the jobs numbers says it all.  Not only is the state growing jobs an anemic 0.5% rate, Wisconsin continues to place 50th among 50 states in startup activity, with the distance between Wisconsin and the next-lowest states widening even more from 2016 and 2015. Meanwhile, the Governor continues to give away hundreds of millions of dollars in a no-strings-attached tax credit to the wealthiest in our state, at the expense of public schools, tech schools, and the UW System.”

Since the credit has been fully phased in, Wisconsin has lost manufacturing jobs over 12 months in every quarter the Bureau of Labor Statistics has released jobs data. Recent data from the state’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau revealed the top 11 claimants of the credit all make $30 million or more per year, and as a group are projected to receive a whopping $22 million in 2017 alone.  Because there is no job creation requirement, claimants can actually take money from the credit and outsource jobs, or even invest in automation to replace actual jobs.

The tax measure was included in the 2011 budget during a last-minute motion on the last day before the Joint Finance Committee passed the budget.  As a result, there was no public hearing, input, testimony, or consideration of the impact of the decision when it was passed.

At the time of passage, the credit was estimated to cost $128 million annually when fully phased in by 2016-17.  However, the credit is projected to actually end up costing $299 million in 2016-17, and is expected to balloon in cost to $334 million by 2018-19.  By the end of the 2017-19 budget, the credit will have cost $800 million more than was originally forecasted when it was passed in 2011.

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