With Scott Walker barely to be seen in Wisconsin as he campaigns for president around the country, his Republican Party is introducing a proposal that would increase property taxes on Wisconsin homeowners by $270 million per year.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the Republican bill eliminates the business equipment tax and, in order to recover the lost revenue, localities would have to shift the burden to Wisconsin homeowners. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reports that taxes for the average Wisconsin home would increase by 2.7 percent, or $80, to maintain services. Statewide, the increase would total $270 million per year. The Wisconsin Realtors Association, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, and the Wisconsin Counties Association are all opposing the bill.
Walker's "Iowa Caucus Budget" already has enough bad news for middle class Wisconsin families -- it raises taxes and fees by $48 million, guts the University of Wisconsin System and K-12 public education, borrows nearly a billion dollars while delaying $100 million in debt repayment, and slashes funding for critical healthcare programs like SeniorCare and IRIS.
And those attacks on the middle class couldn't come at a worse time. Under largely Republican leadership, Wisconsin has seen the largest decline in the percentage of families considered "middle class" since 2000. A report released last week by the Pew Charitable Trust shows that Wisconsin's median household income has fallen by 14.7 percent since 2000, the worst drop of any state and more than double the average decline nationally. In 2000, Wisconsin incomes were well above the national average but are now well below.
The Capital Times reports that, in addition to the falling incomes, "many Wisconsinites are now paying a higher percentage of their income to cover housing costs. In 2000, only 24 percent of state families were spending more than the 30 percent of their income on rent or a mortgage but that has increased to 31 percent."
"Wisconsin's middle class is faring worse than in any other state, yet Scott Walker and his Republican Party want to shift even more of the tax burden onto working Wisconsin families while slashing funding for programs critical to helping Wisconsinites get into and stay in the middle class," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Tuesday. "We know that Scott Walker is done with Wisconsin, but Wisconsin Republicans still have a chance to do what's best for working Wisconsin families and not Scott Walker's presidential campaign."