One of the most important ideological commitments of the modern conservative movement is an opposition to tax increases. It is with this ideology that then-Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker signed Americans For Tax Reforms’ “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” a vow not to raise taxes on the people of his state.
Yet in his newly proposed budget, now-governor Walker appears to have already broken this pledge. While the budget would lower taxes overall — it includes $83.3 million in tax cuts “primarily for businesses and investors” — it would make up for lost revenue by eliminating tax credits and exemptions that primarily benefit the poor and even some in the middle class.
Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau — the state’s equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office — finds that this would amount to a $49.9 million tax increase on people who receive these credits over the next two years:
Low and middle income people would lose tax credits worth about $49.4 million over two years, the new Legislative Fiscal Bureau report said.
Those affected most by Walker’s proposal would include low-income families who qualify for the earned income tax credit program, and low-income homeowners who receive tax rebates under the homestead tax credit.
In addition to eliminating these tax credits, Walker also has proposed a spate of new fee increases. The “bulk of the fee increases are for tuition at University of Wisconsin campuses, totaling more than $105 million over two years.”
It appears that Walker is less committed to keeping taxes down on everyone than he is to cutting taxes for some of society’s most fortunate members, while raising them on some of its most vulnerable. He joins many other conservative state legislators across the country who are cutting taxes on the richest while slashing services and raising taxes for Main Street America.