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An open letter to Governor Walker and the Wisconsin State Legislature Commending a Responsible State Budget
June 24, 2011
The Honorable Scott Walker Governor of the State of Wisconsin 115 East Capitol Madison, WI 53702
Dear Governor Walker:
On behalf of more than 7,500 members of the National Taxpayers Union from the state of Wisconsin, I write to commend you and the Legislature for producing a responsible state budget. In stark contrast to those enacted under prior governments, this framework relies upon spending restraint along with serious reforms to collective bargaining and other policies to put the state on a sustainable fiscal path. Our members appreciate the difficult work in crafting this plan.
Wisconsin faced a staggering budget deficit exceeding $3 billion, reflecting years of bloated expenditures and irresponsible decisions by Governors and legislators past. This budget tackles the deficit problem the right way, by trimming back outlays without raising taxes on hard-working citizens. According to the Tax Foundation, Wisconsin’s state and local tax burden ranks 4th-highest nationally and its business tax climate is a disappointing 40th. This blueprint recognizes that with unemployment still stubbornly high amid an uncertain economy, Wisconsin families and businesses simply cannot afford even higher taxes.
In addition to reducing spending, the budget makes significant progress in other areas long overdue for revision. Most notably, it changes collective bargaining processes for public employees. Though some have portrayed this as a draconian anti-union measure, in truth it still grants public employees in Wisconsin greater collective bargaining rights than federal workers enjoy, or those in other successful states like Virginia.
Finally, this fiscal plan deserves commendation for several other important reforms. It freezes property taxes, counteracting a nationwide trend whereby property tax collections have continued to rise during most of the economic downturn despite falling home values. It transitions to weight-based taxation of some tobacco products, a more logical policy than a price-based levy. It trims unsustainable Medicaid expenditures, helping to sensibly rein in a large and growing portion of the state budget. It reduces the number of state positions by more than 1,000, stemming the seemingly endless tide of expansion in the government sector.
This budget is not perfect by any means, but it represents a significant move forward, out of the quagmire Madison had been in for years. We commend you and the Legislature for your efforts in creating it and look forward to working with you on these important issues in the future.
Sincerely,Andrew Moylan Vice President of Government Affairs
cc: State Legislature