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Support the Supermajority Vote Requirement for Tax Increases!
An Open Letter to the Wisconsin General Assembly
January 10, 2011
On behalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s 7,800-plus members in Wisconsin, I urge you to support a bill requiring a supermajority vote on tax increases in order to reduce the state’s high tax burden and promote economic growth.
Wisconsin currently has the ninth-highest state and local tax burden as a percentage of state income in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. This is a higher ranking than all of Wisconsin’s neighbors. Additionally, property taxes as a percentage of median home value are the fourth-highest, surpassing even those in Illinois and New York. Moreover, Wisconsin has the ninth-highest gasoline tax rate and sixth-highest cigarette tax rate in the nation. But despite these horrendously heavy tax burdens, elected officials too readily turn to tax increases as a solution to fiscal woes. That is precisely why Wisconsin needs a supermajority safeguard.
A comprehensive supermajority protection against tax increases will help reinforce fiscal discipline and spur economic growth. By restraining the steady increase in tax burdens, this reform will help focus budget policy on its most important task: establishing affordable, sustainable, and efficient spending programs. Equally important, passing a supermajority vote requirement will signal to individual and business taxpayers that Wisconsin’s government is serious about making the state a great place to live and do business. States that have brought taxes under control have grown more in terms of jobs and population than those that allow taxes to rise unimpeded. In its ongoing landmark project, “Rich States, Poor States,” the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ranks the economic outlook for states based on their fiscal policies. Four of the five top-ranked states in ALEC’s latest study had legislative “supermajority” and/or voter approval requirements for tax hikes. Although the ALEC analysis incorporates many factors, effective rules against runaway taxes clearly can matter.
NTU and its members strongly support efforts to limit burdensome tax increases, and we are eager to help make such efforts succeed. Therefore, we urge you to adopt a supermajority vote requirement and stand ready to assist you in this worthwhile endeavor.