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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, August 15, 2022
David Ruiz

Wisconsin's extra $137 million should be invested wisely, not cut

Last week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released an estimate of Wisconsin’s budget surplus that exceeded preliminary estimates by $137 million. Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has announced that it plans to use the extra funding in order to give a tax break to Wisconsin families in a terribly unsurprising move. Considering the extreme budget cutting techniques done in the name of state debt, a tax rebate is hardly the innovative way of building tax base that Wisconsin needs.

Walker’s current plan to turn the bumped-up budget surplus into tax breaks is an easy choice but certainly the wrong one. Instead of returning the money to Wisconsin taxpayers through a tax bonus, the administration should create an educational relief fund. A tax break is likely to benefit the wealthiest more than average citizens. Additionally, a 2012 study released by the Congressional Research Service found no statistical support for the common Republican claim that tax breaks benefit job growth.

Although the national picture of unemployment and underemployment is slowly brightening, the figures for youth unemployment and underemployment aren’t keeping pace with national numbers. Discouraged youth workers are the most likely to leave Wisconsin for greener pastures. Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked Wisconsin 42 among the states in job growth. If Walker really wants to deliver on his promise of bringing jobs into Wisconsin he should educate the tax base to ensure fewer jobs go unoccupied.

By creating a relief fund for technical or job-focused education, Walker will be able to balance the many concerns on where this money should go. First, Walker would be able to shed some of his reputation as an ideologue. Secondly, the fund will help rejuvenate struggling communities throughout the state as opposed to the minimal-but-statewide impact of a tax break. Third, investing in education is basically always money well spent as long as it is spent efficiently. Funding job training and technical courses is a relatively short-term and cost-effective means of using education to grow the tax base. Finally, I am sick of hearing that Republicans have an advantage in business acumen while their strategies are outdated and contested.

Although the growth in surplus is relatively small, Wisconsinites should keep in mind how much it cost us to get the state into a budgetary surplus, and whether a one-off tax break could be worth all the trouble.

David is a senior majoring in English with a certificate in computer science. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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