- Views & Opinions
Last fall, I had the opportunity to travel across Wisconsin. No matter where I went, I found stagnant wages, underemployment and was confronted with a growing sentiment that our economic system is rigged against hardworking Wisconsinites. It’s easy to see why.
Over the last three decades, the average incomes for Wisconsin’s top 1 percent have increased by 120 percent, yet the incomes of the remaining 99 percent grew by just 4 percent (Pulling Apart 2016, by the Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS). Not only are middle income people paying the largest percentage of their income of any group in state and local taxes (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy), but the number of Wisconsin middle income families is declining faster in Wisconsin than any state in the nation (Pew Charitable Trust).
Wisconsin’s economic system is rigged to benefit those at the top and one need not look further than the Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit beloved by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans. The biggest corporate tax giveaway in Wisconsin history, this corporate handout is projected to cost more than $650 million over the next biennium, with 88 percent of this tax giveaway going to individuals making more than $500,000. Eleven millionaires, making more than $35 million each, will receive nearly $22 million in tax breaks, funded by your tax dollars. Despite claims that this drives economic development, recipients are not required to create one single job and can even outsource jobs! In fact, Wisconsin had roughly 4,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in September 2016 than September 2015.
While Wisconsin’s wealthy continue to receive bountiful handouts, most other working families continue to struggle, working harder and harder just to get by. This is why last week I joined several of my Democratic colleagues in introducing legislation that provides Wisconsin’s middle income families with the raise they need.
Combined with instituting a millionaire’s tax on families making more than $1,000,000, we take the money Republicans want to send to Wisconsin’s wealthy and we instead give a tax break to the low and middle class families who need it the most. Our tax cut is targeted to individuals earning between $12,000 and $60,000, and married couples making between $20,000 and $100,000, with the average family of four earning an annual income of $45,000 receiving a $607 tax break. From needed car maintenance to additional extracurricular programs for the kids — we know Wisconsin families benefitting from our tax breaks will reinvest this money in Wisconsin’s economy. A thriving middle class isn’t just the result of a strong economy — a strong middle class builds a strong economy. This proposal puts more money into the pockets of Wisconsin’s families, which means more money in our local economy.
To the hard working families of Wisconsin — we hear you. We understand the struggles you face every day. We are committed to doing everything we can to give you a needed raise and to build an economy that works for you, not just those at the top.
State Rep. Chris Taylor is a Democrat who represents Madison.