Governor Walker’s State of the State: “Getting positive things done for the people of Wisconsin”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker delivered his 8th State of the State address in Madison, highlighting his “ambitious agenda” for the 2018 legislative session. Major areas of focus include education, job growth, welfare reform, and ensuring a stable environment for small businesses.
Walker began by illustrating the current condition of the Badger State compared to when he took office eight years ago. Major accomplishments include the state’s budget surplus, low long-term outstanding debt, upgraded bond ratings, increased health care coverage, and significantly lower taxes. Research conducted by the ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform lends validity to the claim that Wisconsin has improved in many respects over the last eight years. The state’s economic outlook ranks a healthy 19th in Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, climbing more than a dozen spots from a low of 32nd in 2012.
Governor Walker touted several tax reform accomplishments during his tenure, noting “a typical family will have saved $1,400 since 2010,” largely due to decreases in personal income and property taxes. Wisconsin qualified for the recently released edition of ALEC’s State Tax Cut Roundup, which means state taxes were reduced in a substantial manner, mainly for the elimination of the alternative minimum tax and the state-level property tax. Wisconsin has qualified each year the report has been published apart from 2016. By the end of the current budget cycle in 2019, Wisconsin taxpayers will have received approximately $8 billion in cumulative tax relief over Walker’s time in office. Relatedly, the business community has become more optimistic about the state. Walker pointed out for the first time in the report’s history, Chief Executive Magazine ranked Wisconsin as a top-10 state to do business.
As people continue to vote with their feet and relocate to states with healthy economies and low taxes, the shift toward economically competitive policies in Wisconsin has resulted in more than $3 billion of income migrating in from Illinois alone, according to How Money Walks. Illinois has long been known as a state with high taxes and excessive regulations, and Wisconsin benefits from this by attracting the people, capital, and businesses that cannot afford living or operating in Illinois. Walker joined two other Midwestern governors in thanking the Illinois legislature for implementing economically unsound policies, resulting in even more of a boom for the Badger State.
Governor Walker has much to be proud of, and Wisconsin taxpayers are better off than they were several years ago. However, based on ALEC’s Principles of Taxation and research in Rich States, Poor States, improvements can be made. The personal income tax rate and corporate income tax rate are both still relatively high, which are two of the most economically damaging taxes. Simplicity, transparency, and economic neutrality are three essentials for good tax policy. Shortcomings aside, ALEC looks forward to Governor Walker’s continued march toward making Wisconsin as competitive as possible through fiscal responsibility and sound economic policy.