The first involves the rate of people without health insurance, which continued to decline in 2016. But as the Budget Project points out, Wisconsin’s decline in uninsured is less than our neighbors (all of whom have taken some version of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion).
The graph illustrates that although Wisconsin has had an impressive drop in the percentage of people lacking insurance, the four states on our borders have seen more rapid declines. In each of those states the number of people who are uninsured has dropped by at least 47%, compared to 42% in Wisconsin. If we keep moving forward and reach the Minnesota rate, there would be about 68,000 fewer uninsured Wisconsinites!
But don’t bet on Wisconsin following Minnesota’s lead and expanding Medicaid with this crew in charge. In fact, Governor Walker has been one of the loudest voices asking for the current “screw up Obamacare” bill, because of its ability to offer “flexibility” to states via a block grant with few strings attached on exactly who or what can or should be covered.
Bad enough to hear if you’re a low-income Wisconsinite, but the Budget Project notes that there’s even more bad news for you put inside of the state budget which awaits Governor Walker’s signature. That’s because two key tax credits that benefit lower-income Wisconsinites are set to be taken away and/or diminished for many individuals.
This removal of tax writeoffs for the poor continues a trend that began in 2011, when Walker’s first budget stopped the income thresholds for the Homestead Credit from rising with inflation. The Budget Project explains that this has yanked the Homestead Credit for tens of thousands of Wisconsinsites in the last 6 years.
As inflation gradually raises incomes, more people exceed the income eligibility ceiling, which since 2011 has been frozen at $24,680. That’s an important reason why the number of households getting the credit fell by about 49,000 from 2010 to 2015, a drop of 24%. In addition, the sliding scale structure of the credit means that as incomes gradually rise, those who remain eligible receive smaller amounts.Meanwhile, the same GOPs on the Joint Finance Committee repealed the Alternative Minimum Tax, a tax cut that overwhelmingly helps the richest Wisconsinites, and they gave corporations a $74 million property tax break. And oh yeah, we’re now literally giving billions in bags of cash to a foreign corporation in the HOPE that they will hire Wisconsinites and retain the jobs for more than 2 years.
A more immediate factor that will boost property taxes for low-income Wisconsinites is a provision in the budget bill that makes non-elderly, non-disabled people ineligible for the Homestead Credit if they have no earned income from employment. According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, that change will mean that about 11,400 households will lose $7 million during the second year of the budget period, or an average of $614 each.
This provision radically changes the Homestead Credit, which formerly provided the most property tax relief to people with annual income between zero and about $8,000. It will be a harsh economic blow to many Wisconsinites who have lost their jobs or who face barriers to work. For example, someone who gives up their job to care full-time for a sick relative is likely to lose their Homestead Credit.
The Joint Finance Committee amended the Governor’s Homestead Tax proposals in two respects. The committee narrowed the scope of the cut in the credit for people with little or no earned income, so it cuts property tax relief for those low-income households by $7 million per year, instead of $12 million. Unfortunately, JFC rejected the Governor’s proposal to adjust the credit for inflation each year for seniors and people with disabilities. As a result, inflation will continue to fuel the decline in this property tax assistance, which is illustrated in the graph.
In other bad news for low-income Wisconsinites, the Finance Committee rejected the Governor’s proposal to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) by about $20 million for 130,000 low-income working families. That proposal would have gotten funding for the EITC back to roughly where it was before Governor Walker and the legislature cut the credit in 2011.
Pretty obvious what side those GOP-puppets are on at the Capitol. It’s also pretty obvious from the lousy job creation stats that this trickle-down mentality has failed the state miserably, and kept it behind in the 2010s. So why would anyone other than a selfish, rich jackwagon vote for these regressive slimeballs?