Friday, September 15, 2017

Undermining Wisconsin’s Future

By Gordon Hintz

Scott Walker has had the advantage of being Wisconsin’s governor during the third-longest national economic expansion in U.S. history. While Wisconsin’s economy has lagged behind the national average during his time as governor, there still has been state revenue growth in each state budget.  Yet even with these increases, Gov. Walker has slashed funding for higher education and K-12 education.
If Wisconsin has more money, why haven’t we increased investment in educational opportunity? The answer is simple. For Gov. Walker and Republicans, it is a bigger priority to direct those state resources to tax cuts for the wealthy.
Wisconsin’s budget has become increasingly strained by the governor’s so-called “Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit”. When it was abruptly slipped into the 2011 budget, the credit was forecast to cost $128 million each year when fully phased in by 2016-’17. However, state estimates show that the credit cost has more than doubled.  This tax giveaway is now expected to balloon to $334 million a year by 2018-’19. In addition to cuts made to public schools and higher education, 148 school districts have voted to raise their own property taxes by nearly $630 million to avoid harmful cuts to educational programs since 2011. The state resources being diverted to this credit have also resulted in the governor actually borrowing $209 million the last three years from future taxpayers—just to keep the budget in the black.
There have been huge consequences and costs associated with this credit. It would be one thing if the hundreds of millions spent on this giveaway had resulted in successful job creation. But they have not. Under Gov. Walker, Wisconsin dropped from 12,009 manufacturing jobs gained in 2010 to 3,776 manufacturing jobs lost in 2016.
Which brings us to Foxconn, and what it means for Wisconsin’s future.
Since becoming Governor, Scott Walker has desperately tried to define himself as the pro-jobs governor. His efforts have, of course, been a gigantic failure. Currently, Walker’s track record includes: an unfulfilled pledge to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term; a mining bill which promised thousands of jobs but created zero; anti-worker reforms; and more reckless tax credits aimed at drawing new business. 
These failures have led our frantic governor to double-down on a costly economic trickle-down fantasy: his proposal to offer the most expensive state taxpayer-funded subsidy to a foreign company in U.S. history. It is important to note that because slashing taxes for the wealthy and corporations is now the operating principle of the Wisconsin Republican Party, Foxconn’s billionaire owner will now owe basically nothing in taxes.  Therefore, he will be receiving up to $3 billion in tax credits as a cash payment from Wisconsin taxpayers.
Before the 2017-’19 budget is signed—and before the legislature approved $3 billion in taxpayer-funded incentives—Wisconsin faces a $1 billion deficit in the 2019-’21 budget. With economic growth projections being lowered for the next few years, state growth will likely slow as well. 
Walker has left the state fiscally unprepared for slower economic times. Now he is betting it all on the Foxconn package, which, under the best-case scenario, would not break even for a quarter-century. And knowing Walker’s and Foxconn’s history of “overpromising and underperforming,” this best case is not likely to happen. 
The opportunity cost of not investing in transportation, the future education of our children and further incentivizing entrepreneurship is very real. Just like public school and university cuts paid for massive tax cuts the past few years, you can assume that taxpayer funding for Foxconn will come at the expense of these programs once again.
Gordon Hintz serves in the Wisconsin State Assembly as the representative for the 54th District.


  1. Yet, the four Democrats representing Kenosha and Racine Counties (plus a Milwaukee Dem) voted FOR more Foxconn jobs. As for education, Walker proposes a 6 percent increase in total school aid over the last budget. Facts matter. And what was the headline in the Wis State Journal on Sunday? More jobs than workers to fill them.

    1. They are politicians Dave - just like the Cons who voted against Walker budgets in the past to stay safe in their districts. In the end they will not be blamed for Foxconn's failure - Walter will be but you Dave will be trying desperately to clean up his mess when he will be long gone - having used WI for his own benefit. Walker doesn't give a crap about you Dave.

  2. David,

    To see you write the words "facts matter" is hilarious. Lets look at those facts that matter.

    Sure some Democrats voted for it, while some Righties voted against. However no one voted AGAINST Foxconn jobs, those who voted against it voted against giving them 3 billion dollars with no real guarantees and the devastation of our water to help appease them.

    Secondly Walker proposed a 6% increase in total school aid. The key words of course are "over the last budget", Walker is the Governor who cut more money from School Aid than at anytime in our history. Replenishing some of that hardly makes him a hero.

    As for the worker shortage....i wonder why so many people are leaving wi??

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  4. Included in the total education budget was a good amount that goes toward a levy tax credit, not into classrooms. And a good amount toward private schools. Public schools will see enough to cover inflation but nothing to make up for the past six years. Low spending districts, thankfully, are getting an increasein their levy limit.

  5. Spending $3 billion to create up to 13,000 jobs when we have historically low unemployment is like the Green Bay Packers signing Tom Brady when we have Aaron Rodgers. Spend the money where it is needed. Educate potential workers and retain UW graduates. Do all we can to attract and expand our dearth of Hispanic and Asian workers. Help out inner city unemployed. Don't create jobs for a Chinese company when there are no workers.

  6. Correct! And dont forget that DOT budget indexing to inflation was removed (I believe) in 2011 as well which means that road revenue has remained flat while costs have been rising between 2-3% per year which has resulted in more borrowing taking more money out of the budget by doubling the percentage of the budget directed at debt repayment vs. actual work.

    Notice also that that the tax "credit" is referred to as a "refundable credit" since Foxconn would never pay a dime in income taxes anyway - it will be necessary for the government - for the first time in history - pay taxes to a corporation.
    You really just cant make this crap up!

  7. Who, exactly, is leaving Wisconsin? Name them. Unemployment is lowest in 20 years. Wisconsin has the nation's 11th lowest unemployment rate. Well ahead of the national average. Education? The budget puts an additional $639 million increase to K-12 schools, making it the largest investment in actual dollars to K-12 schools -- EVER! The education budget provides more money directly to the classroom and allocates an additional $200/pupil in the first year of the budget and $204/pupil in the second year. Admittedly, Foxconn is a gamble but that $2.85 billion is taxes not collected now and foregone at the outset. Much like a TIFF district.

  8. The Milw Journal Sentinel:

    "Walker’s proposal provides about $227 million more in aid than state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers asked for in his agency budget request.

    "Evers praised Walker’s proposal, describing the plan as a “pro-kid budget” and “an important step forward.”

    The state’s share of K-12 funding will rise to 64.6 percent (the rest comes from property taxes and federal aid). That’s the highest since 2009.

    Walker's budget increases per-pupil spending by 78%, according to the Wisconsin Budget Project.

    1. Walter hasn't even come close to restoring the billions he cut from public education. Furthermore teaching is now a dead end job because of ACT 10. Teachers now barely receive a cost of living increase. They are indeed fleeing to MN where salaries are double than in WI- the reason Dave for the teacher shortage. Plenty of teaching jobs - nobody to fill them consequently Walker reduces requirements/ standards for teaching licenses.

    2. Assertions, Golden Eagles, but no facts. Whoa, whoa, oh, feelings ...

  9. The triggered snowflake is always here trying to cry about his delusions. Walker is doing nothing positive for this state, he is selling off our land, water, and tax revenue to a foreign business. Do you realize how messed up that is?