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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Recent state budget offers no assistance to taxpayers

Raindrops slowly streak down the beautiful stained glass windows of a century-old Wisconsin church like tears down the cheek of a grieving widow. A funeral procession begins its slow measured march out of the church and into the nearby cemetery. A coffin is slowly lowered into a dark grave. The simple granite headstone reads: ATLAS 1848-2009.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the last year realizes that our state has fallen on difficult economic times. Our businesses are struggling to compete, and our people are having difficulty finding work to support their families.

The obvious solution to this problem is for the government to intervene. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing this. Unfortunately for us, the people that we've elected to represent us in Madison have decided to choose the wrong way.

We would like to ask this of our elected officials here in Madison: If we were struggling to carry a great weight on our shoulders, would you throw a sack of bricks on top of it? Instead of lightening the burden on our state's businesses and general citizenry, the Democrats have only added to our burden through a series of new taxes and regulations in the state budget.

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According to the official state budget for 2010-2011 which was released this past June, total state spending is expected to rise by 6.2 percent, or $3.64 billion. Where is this money going to come from? Property owners can expect a total $1.5 billion increase in property taxes next year. People are struggling to pay their mortgages, many of them receiving funding from the government, yet they're going to turn around and raise our property taxes? Doesn't this seem just a little bit counter-productive? Wait, there's more. Property taxes will increase under the new budget, yet the value of homes are continuing to decline. Jim Doyle and Wisconsin Democrats must be the only people in the world who can understand that logic, or lack thereof.

Yet another burden to be dropped on our backs is a 10 percent increase in the state utilities tax. Wisconsin citizens struggle every winter to keep the heat on as it is, and this tax increase will only add to that burden.

There can't possibly be any more taxes right? Wrong. Currently, the highest income tax bracket in the state is set at 6.75 percent, yet according to an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, that income tax bracket can be expected to rise to 7.75 percent in 2010. Capital gains taxes are also expected to rise for Wisconsin businesses. This tax increase will only drive the existing businesses in Wisconsin out. We have already seen the departure of the New Page paper mill in the Fox Valley, as well as significant job losses in the auto industries located in Janesville and Kenosha to name a few of the 31,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the past year. As taxes go up, businesses will seek a friendlier business climate (aka a place that doesn't have a nearly 8 percent state income tax rate) and even more jobs will be lost as a result.

There is one silver lining in this perfect storm of a mess. The budget calls for a halt on capital gains taxes for all upstart businesses in Wisconsin. There's an old saying that really fits this quite well: ""Even a blind hog finds a kernel of corn sometime.""

Regardless of the wonderful potential the aforementioned tax halt may have, it is not enough. Luring in new business is only part of the solution. We must entice not only new business to come to Wisconsin, but we also must retain the old standards like Briggs & Stratton and the paper industry. What good is it to bring in new jobs if we're just going to lose the ones that are already here? If we truly want to jump start the economy, we must cut taxes for all businesses, not just new ones. The road to economic prosperity must include new businesses, as well as the current employers.

Economic policies like I'm proposing cannot possibly come from men like Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom ""the Taxer"" Barrett. Lower taxes, less government spending and a focus on creating and retaining jobs should be top priorities for our state.

Atlas is a mythical Greek god who carried the Earth on his shoulders. The great philosopher Ayn Rand used Atlas to symbolize the business leaders of the world. There certainly is a parallel between the man who holds the world on his shoulders and business owners, because without either, the world falls into oblivion. We are Atlas. Whether you are a small business owner, an employee, or a corporate big shot, we hold the weight of the world on our shoulders. This new state budget passed by the Democrats in the height of a recession is an added burden. Atlas is shrugging. We are shrugging, and if we don't get a spotter our backs will shatter.

Jon Derenne is a member of the UW College Republicans. The College Republicans can be contacted at wisconsincrs@gmail.com. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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