Joshua Culling

Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Walker Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge

Posted by Joshua Culling on Monday, March 15th, 2010, 5:35 PM PERMALINK

Last week, Milwaukee County Executive and Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker pledged to oppose any attempts to raise taxes should he be the next Governor. By signing ATR's Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Walker represents a departure from current Gov. Doyle, a failed tax-and-spender throughout his tenure.

Doyle recently raised tobacco taxes $355 million, telephone taxes $100 million, income taxes $287 million, capital gains taxes $242 million, and hospital taxes $854 million. He also voluntarily drove up the cost of health insurance courtesy of a $490 million tax increase on insurance companies, nursing homes, and surgical centers.

Wisconsin needs a new direction. The state's unemployment rate is high; its oppressive tax burden is a deterrant to investment, job creation, and economic growth. By signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Scott Walker has show he understands the perils of Gov. Doyle's tax-and-spend agenda. Gov. Walker would not make the same mistakes.

Visit Scott's campaign site here. See below for ATR's press release on Scott's commitment to Wisconsin taxpayers

Scott Walker Signs Taxpayer Protection Pledge in Campaign for Wisconsin Governor
Gubernatorial Candidate Promises to Protect Wisconsin Taxpayers
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, a Republican running for governor of Wisconsin, has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). The Pledge is a commitment to constituents to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
Currently, 7 Governors and over 1,100 state legislators have signed the State Taxpayer Pledge. They join 33 Senators and 172 members of the House of Representatives who have signed the Pledge on the federal level.
“Wisconsin residents need leaders committed to fiscal responsibility and pro-growth
economic policies. Scott Walker has long stood on the side of the taxpayer and I commend him for reiterating his commitment to the people of Wisconsin by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” said Grover Norquist, president of ATR.
By signing the Pledge, Scott Walker demonstrates that he understands the problems of hard-working taxpayers nationwide, but especially the taxpayers in Wisconsin.”
“I applaud Scott for his leadership and dedication to the ideals of limited government, and for putting taxpayers’ wallets ahead of government coffers,” added Norquist. “I strongly encourage every candidate in Wisconsin and in elected offices throughout the country to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

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More from Americans for Tax Reform

Minnesota Gubernatorial Candidate Running on a Platform of Tax Hikes

Posted by Joshua Culling on Thursday, March 11th, 2010, 11:50 AM PERMALINK

The Minnesota DFL (the state's Democratic party) has a crowded field for the 2010 gubernatorial race, with about 10 credible candidates vying for the nomination. One of them is Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook), the Chairman of the Senate Tax Committee and a darling of organized labor. Sen. Bakk has wasted little time in showing his true colors to prospective voters, introducing a bill this session that would extend the sales tax to clothing, a $300 million annual tax increase.

The tax hike is coupled with a flimsy promise to cut the overall sales tax from 6.5% to 6.25% in the future. It's the classic "broaden the tax base now, lower the overall rate later" ploy. First, Minnesotans can reasonably expect the future cut in the overall rate to be delayed or ignored down the road. Second, broadening the tax base is only acceptable if the corresponding rate cut at least offsets the additional revenue increase. That's not the case with Sen. Bakk's proposal.

Unsurprisingly, the Senate Education Committee took a voice vote on the bill this morning. They avoided putting the vote on record because they understand the implications for lawmakers who choose to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.

Gov. Pawlenty is on record in opposition to this and any tax increases this year. He prefers spending restraint and tax cuts for the business community to spur job creation and economic growth.

ATR's letter to the Legislature:


March 9, 2010
Minnesota House
Minnesota Senate
Dear Legislator:
Sen. Tom Bakk has proposed extending the state sales tax to include clothing purchases, with the promise of eventually reducing the overall rate. This represents a net tax increase of $300 million per year in the midst of a painful recession and should be declared dead on arrival in the legislature.
Minnesota’s spending excess/overage – nearly $1 billion – cannot be eliminated with higher taxes on consumers. Spending restraint is the only economically viable path to restore prosperity to the state.
Sen. Bakk argues that by cutting the overall sales tax rate by 0.25 percent, this proposal constitutes a net tax cut. This is untrue, as extending the sales tax to clothing pays for $1.2 billion in new spending in addition to the lost revenue attributed to the rate reduction. It is also unclear if the rate cut will ever take place, as it is scheduled to take place in the second year of the plan. History shows that “future” tax cuts often fail to take place as scheduled.
Lowering tax rates while broadening the tax base are laudable goals, but Sen. Bakk’s proposal is unacceptable for two reasons. First, rate cuts should occur before any extension of the sales tax. Minnesotans simply cannot trust government to honor a tax cut promised at some point in the future.
Second, the Bakk plan is a net tax increase. The general sales tax rate must be reduced to a level that at least offsets the amount of revenue raised by extending the tax to clothing sales, or preferably further. The proposal as currently written represents a punitive tax hike on consumers at a time when they are already forced to make difficult decisions in the face of economic uncertainty.
Of course, the state’s budget woes do not reflect a revenue problem, but an overspending issue. Outlays have increased by an average of 21 percent per budget cycle over the past half-century. That kind of government frivolity crowds out growth from the private sector – where sustainable job creation takes place. In addition to a wholesale rejection of this $300 million sales tax increase, I encourage the legislature to embrace Gov. Pawlenty’s proposed constitutional cap on spending growth, which would get government under control and put Minnesota on a path to prosperity.
It’s time to stand up for the taxpayers of Minnesota and have an honest discussion about the proper path out of this recession. That discussion should not include tax increases of any shape or size, including Sen. Bakk’s sales tax hike.
Grover Norquist


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ATR Supports the Georgia JOBS Act

Posted by Joshua Culling on Tuesday, March 9th, 2010, 10:03 AM PERMALINK

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger) has taken the unusual position that for a state to pull itself out of recession it must enact pro-growth economic policies like tax cuts and incentives for businesses to resume hiring. How novel.

Rep. Graves' HB 1023, the JOBS Act, would eliminate the state's net worth tax, halve its capital gains tax, and give tax credits to businesses that hire new employees. It's a bold and credible package that will help reverse Georgia's 23 consecutive months of increased unemployment rates.

The bill is expected to come to a vote on the House floor sometime this week. A variation of this measure sponsored by Rep. Graves in 2009 passed the House and the Senate easily but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Sonny Perdue. For the sake of the state's economy, here's to hoping he does the right thing this year.

 ATR's letter to the Georgia Legislature is pasted below.


March 8, 2010
Georgia House
Georgia Senate
Dear Legislator:
As state legislatures across the country are considering ill-advised tax increases to balance their budgets, Georgia has a chance to enact a tax cut package that will foster job creation and economic growth. I urge you to support HB 1023, the JOBS Act of 2010, which would eliminate the net worth tax, halve the capital gains tax, and create incentives for job creation in the Peach State.
The JOBS Act, introduced by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger), acknowledges the fact that states compete amongst each other for people, jobs, and capital. Through smart and principled tax reform, Georgia can gain a competitive edge where others in the region, such as Florida and Alabama, have flourished. HB 1023 includes the following reforms:
·        A 50 percent reduction in the capital gains tax. Georgia’s capital gains tax is high when compared to its neighbors. The state sports the second-highest rate in the Southeast, with two bordering states (Florida and Tennessee) imposing no tax on capital gains. Because Georgia is facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, it is important to note that a reduction in the capital gains tax is among the most likely tax cuts to produce more revenue to the state. The last five reductions in the federal capital gains tax—in 1978, 1981, 1997, and 2003—all increased government revenue. Georgia’s budget deficit is no reason to delay this tax cut; it is a reason to aggressively pursue it.
·        Elimination of the net worth tax. This tax hit the business community to the tune of $31 million in FY 2009. When combined with Georgia’s 6 percent corporate income tax, this represents a significant levy on the state’s job creators. Very few states still impose a net worth tax; its repeal would certainly make Georgia a more attractive destination for business and capital.
·        Elimination of barriers to business creation. The bill would exempt new businesses from paying state fees when applying before July of 2011. In the midst of a weak economy, it is imperative government do everything possible to get out of the way of private sector job creation.
HB 1023 gives Georgia the opportunity to differentiate from other states decrying the fictional “revenue problem” of the current recession. Rep. Graves understands that higher taxes on investment and job creation will not pull the state out of the recession. The JOBS Act is a true private sector stimulus bill – and one all Georgia lawmakers should enthusiastically support.
Grover Norquist

  For a PDF copy of the letter, click here.

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