Scott Walker Budget

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Scott Walker Budget:

The Budget Repair Bill that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker introduced in February 2011 effectively took almost all collective bargaining rights away from state, county and municipal workers. "The proposal prompted national attention and months of protests at the Capitol before it was approved by the Legislature and signed by Walker."[1] A circuit court judge temporarily blocked its implementation, but the state's supreme court upheld the law.[2] The budget was signed in June. Walker says his budget will help confront a projected $3.6 billion deficit the state has acquired.

Below is a list of the cuts being made in Wisconsin and how they will affect the average citizen:

Cuts to Education

Governor Walker's budget makes $900 million worth of cuts in K-12 school aid over the next two years. This will continue to move the state further from its former commitment to cover two-thirds of the costs of public schools. Of 24 states studied by the Washington-based think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Wisconsin had the largest reductions in state aid per student this school year because of this budget.[3]

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Higher Education will also be affected. "University tuition is expected to increase by 5.5 percent each year for the UW System, and 20% or more over the biennium for UW Madison."[4]

  • The budget lifts the cap on the number of students who can participate in the Milwaukee School Choice program.[5]
  • It ends state funding for Advanced Placement courses and "science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.”[6]
  • Walker's budget mandates a 5.5 percent cut in per-pupil local education spending. That comes out to approximately $550 per pupil. No district will be permitted to maintain its current level of property tax-based funding for education or be able to increase that tax to offset state cuts. The exact dollar amount would also be greater for higher-revenue districts and lower for low-revenue districts.[7]
  • The bill increases the amount of money spent on Milwaukee's private school voucher system by making more city students eligible for the program.[8]
  • The budget transfers UW-Madison into a quasi-public authority, facing deep cuts in state funding. This could also later happen to UW-Milwaukee.[9]
  • Other public universities face an 11 percent budget cuts and get none of the cost-saving tools UW-Madison would get by splitting from the UW System.[10]

Cuts to workers' rights

Under Governor Walker’s new budget repair bill, unions and state workers will see some of the biggest restrictions and cuts. The Wisconsin State Journal reported that:

  • The bill requires most public workers to pay half of their pension costs. This factors out to about 5.8 percent of state workers’ pay and 12 percent of their health care costs. This does not apply to police, firefighters and state troopers.
  • Raises will be limited to inflation and contracts would be limited to one year. Wages would be frozen until a new contract is settled.
  • Non-law enforcement unions will loose their bargaining rights over everything but wages.
  • Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues, and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues. Changes would be effective upon expiration of existing contracts.
  • It also authorizes appointing agencies to terminate any employees who are absent for three days without approval or any employees participating in an organized action to stop or slow work if the governor has declared a state of emergency.

Local governments

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Budget Bill will cause cities and counties across Wisconsin will see their aid cut by $96 million, or nearly 12 percent on average, over the next two years.

  • The bill would freeze property taxes for local governments, allowing them to increase only for the construction of new homes or buildings.[11]
  • Local governments will no longer be required to operate recycling programs and will no longer get state subsidies for these programs.[12]
  • It also reduces their payments to maintain local roads by 10 percent.[13]
  • The bill requires local governments that don't have civil-service systems to create an employee grievance system within months. Those local civil-service systems would have to address grievances for employee termination, employee discipline and workplace safety.[14]

Tax Cuts and the Economy


Walker has approved over $100 million in tax cuts over the next two years. This is on top of $140 billion already granted to corporations in three bills Walker signed in his first month of office in January.[15]

  • Investors will be provided with lower state taxes on capital gains for investing in Wisconsin businesses.[16]
  • It gives multistate corporations a larger window in using losses to offset their tax liability. That would lower taxes by $46 million over two years.[17]
  • Provides $196 million for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the partly private entity that is replacing the state Department of Commerce.[18]
  • Companies that relocate to Wisconsin won't have to pay income taxes for two years.
  • Eliminates state income taxes on contributions made to health savings accounts.[19]
  • Ending inflation adjustment costs for low-income households under the Homestead Tax Credit that will result in a $8 million cut. "The Homestead Credit provides targeted property tax relief for about 250,000 low-income households, including both owners and renters. The Governor proposes repealing the annual adjustments, which will cut the credits by $2 million in tax year 2011 and $6 million in 2012. The cuts will average about $8 per recipient in tax year 2011 and $24 the next year. Those amounts will grow steadily in future years."[20]

Environment


The Wisconsin State Journal reported that "the former head of the Division of Water in the state Department of Natural Resources said rollbacks of clean water regulations in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget could put the state in violation of federal laws. Walker has proposed reducing standards for phosphorus which were set in a rule passed by the Natural Resources Board last year. His budget also includes a plan to eliminate municipal stormwater standards that regulate pollutants running off streets, parking lots and other urban surfaces."

  • Eliminates rolling back regulations to control phosphorus pollution in line with neighboring states' rules.[21]
  • Eliminates payments to local governments that lose property tax revenues following DNR land stewardship purchases.[22]
  • It lowers funding to the Department of Natural Resources by nearly 16 percent.[23]
  • Lowers support for local transit by 10 percent.[24]

Resources

PRWatch Articles

External Resources

References

  1. State employee 'depreciation' day declared,"The Capital Times. May 5, 2011"
  2. National Legal and Policy Center. Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Collective Bargaining Curbs. Organization's website. September 13, 2011.
  3. The Capital Times. Wisconsin's cuts to school aid steepest of 24 states studied. News website. September 6, 2011.
  4. Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
  5. Local School Districts Affected by Governor's Proposed Budget Cuts,"WUWM: Milwaukee Public Radio. March 2, 2011."
  6. Scott Walker's War on Equality,"The Huffington Post. March 2, 2011"
  7. Scott Walker's War on Equality,"The Huffington Post. March 2, 2011"
  8. Local School Districts Affected by Governor's Proposed Budget Cuts,"WUWM: Milwaukee Public Radio. March 2, 2011."
  9. Scott Walker's War on Equality,"The Huffington Post. March 2, 2011"
  10. Scott Walker's War on Equality,"The Huffington Post. March 2, 2011"
  11. Walker's budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites,Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 1, 2011
  12. Walker's budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites,"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 1, 2011."
  13. Walker's budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites,"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 1, 2011."
  14. Walker's budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites,"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 1, 2011."
  15. Governor Scott Walker signs tax cut bill ,"FOX 6 Now.com. January 31, 2011."
  16. Walker's budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites,"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 1, 2011."
  17. Walker's budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites,"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 1, 2011."
  18. Walker's budget cuts would touch most Wisconsinites,"Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. March 1, 2011."
  19. Governor Scott Walker signs tax cut bill ,"FOX 6 Now.com. January 31, 2011."
  20. Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
  21. Fox Valley Sierra Group stresses Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget will hurt labor and environment at Neenah rally,"Postcrescent.com. Mar. 14, 2011."
  22. Fox Valley Sierra Group stresses Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's budget will hurt labor and environment at Neenah rally,"Postcrescent.com. Mar. 14, 2011."
  23. Walker's Budget an Assualt on Environment,"Thom Hartman Program. March 4, 2011."
  24. Walker's Budget an Assualt on Environment,"Thom Hartman Program. March 4, 2011."