Walker Budget: Cuts for Working Families, Tax Cuts for the Rich
On March 1, Governor Scott Walker introduced his proposed 2011-13 Biennial State Budget, promising that it would usher in an era of “shared sacrifice.”
A preliminary analysis of the lengthy documents reveals a lot of sacrifice, to be sure. But there is very little sharing.
As we’ve come to expect from Walker, the Budget proposal would result in huge cuts in programs that help working families and still more tax breaks for the wealthiest among us.
Here is a summary of some highlights of Walker’s proposed Budget.
• A $500 million cut in spending on Medicaid, the program which, among other things, provides long-term care and home health care for elderly and disabled. The Medicaid program also provides health coverage for lower-income working families through BadgerCare Plus. Though the exact cuts are unspecified by the Walker administration, they will probably be achieved through more limited eligibility, increased co-payments and deductibles, and benefit cuts.
• Local governments will lose $96 million from cuts to the Shared Revenue Program, which provides state aid to cities and counties to keep property taxes lower.
• Extreme cut of $834 million in state aid to K-12 schools, the highest cut ever.
• Cuts aid to the technical colleges by 30 percent or $71.6 million, which is the deepest cut ever to a system that provides skill training for the workforce needed for Wisconsin’s economy to thrive.
• Undermines the public education system still further by extending the school voucher program to all of Milwaukee County and phases out the income eligibility limits for providing taxpayer funds to send children to private schools.
• Raises taxes by $51 million on low-income working families by cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is helpful to low-wage working families, and the Homestead Tax Credit, which is especially helpful to elderly homeowners.
• Gives $83 million in additional tax breaks for corporations and wealthy investors. This is in addition to $117 million in various tax breaks for business passed in the so-called Special Session on Job Creation.
• Repeals the law requiring that insurance companies provide coverage for prescription contraceptives — known as the contraceptive equity law (just passed last session).
• Eliminates jobs initiatives created by the Doyle administration related to the green economy. The “Green to Gold Fund” is abolished as well as the Renewable Grants and Loans Program which were to encourage energy conservation and alternatives to foreign oil—and jobs related to those efforts.
• A $20 a month reduction in W-2 cash benefits (currently frozen for 15 years at $628 per month per family) coupled with reduced opportunities for education and job training.
• Higher co-pays and reduced eligibility for child care subsidies for low-income working families. Eliminates FoodShare for legal immigrants. Allows transfer of $10 million out of the low-income energy assistance program.
• Weaken regulations on dumping phosphorous in Wisconsin waterways.
• Eliminates requirements and funding for municipal recycling programs.