After a year's worth of meetings around the state between members of the Walker administration, to include Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and business leaders, Scott Walker's task force on overhauling state taxes yesterday released its report -- and they don't have any recommendations.
At the direction of Walker, Kleefisch and Department of Revenue Secretary Rick Chandler held a series of 23 "Tax Reform Roundtables" around the state since December 9th of last year, many of which were closed to the public. Controversy surrounding the closed-door meetings with business executives flared up early this year when a video was released of Kleefisch telling a group of business executives, “We want to know how we can love you more."
Walker's report stops short of any recommendations for how to address tax reform in the state, but notes that taxes "are too high and complicated" and they "hinder economic growth, discourage job creation and burden family budgets" -- an assessment that is in stark contradiction to Walker's proposal to increase taxes on Wisconsin drivers by nearly $800 million.
The proposal includes a gas tax increase that will average about $27 per year, per driver, a new vehicle fee increase of about $800 for the average new car, imposes higher fees for electric and hybrid cars, and a higher tax on diesel fuel. In late November, a coalition of 10 Wisconsin business groups, to include Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, released a statement in opposition to Walker's $750 million tax hike.
"What an incredible waste of taxpayer funded time, travel, and resources for Scott Walker to commission a report that says only one thing -- that his $750 million tax hike is absolutely wrong for working Wisconsin families," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Wednesday. "To be sure, Wisconsin is faced with a stark fiscal situation -- a $2.2 billion budget deficit of Walker's creation -- but the burden of fixing Scott Walker's fiscal mess can't fall squarely on the middle-class."