ATR congratulates Governor Doyle and the Democrat led legislature for passing a budget on time for the first time since 1977.  But, that’s about the only decent bit of news for Wisconsinites that has come out of this massive tax-hiking, big-spending, non-transparent, fiscally reckless budget.

The Governor took the time to commend himself after signing the budget stating “I am also proud that legislators agreed with me that we couldn’t close the budget gap by raising taxes.” Yet Gov. Doyle strategically ignores the fact that the budget directly raises over $2.1 billion in taxes on virtually all Wisconsinites, including tax on income, capital gains, property, garbage, hospitals and health care, cigarettes, phones, and nursing homes. Let’s dissect, shall we?
Doyle: "The budget does not raise taxes on middle class families."

Fact: The budget includes a $335 million tax increase on tobacco consumers, whose median income is a little more than $36,000 and who make about 30 percent less than non-smokers.
Fact: A $100 million-plus tax on phones, which apparently only wealthy people own.
Fact: A new tax on garbage collection, again apparently only wealthy people have trash.
Doyle: “This budget ensures that Wisconsin families have affordable access to health care.”
Fact: The budget raises the hospital tax by $854 million, making health care less affordable. It also raises other health care related taxes by another over $490 million on health insurance, nursing homes, and ambulatory surgical centers. These tax hikes also qualify as a billion-dollar-plus tax hike on middle class families (see above).
Doyle: “Wisconsin is definitely open for business… [the budget] invests in Wisconsin businesses that will create jobs and lead to future growth.”
Fact: Creates a new 7.75% top income tax rate pegged at $287 million. Well over two thirds of small businesses file personal income tax returns as “pass-through” entities. Most of these businesses will be forced to raise prices on Wisconsin consumers or lay off employees.
Fact: $242 million tax hike on capital gains, which will impede business investment.
Fact: “Throw-out sales” rule is another $80 million tax hike on business.
Doyle: “We’ve cut more than $3 billion in state spending…we cut spending here in Wisconsin by 3 percent.”
Fact: The budget is a 6.6% increase in overall spending, despite an ironic $6.6 billion overspending problem this year. A quote from Gov. Doyle that we don’t disagree with: “Just as Wisconsin families and businesses cut back, so can state government.” Exactly – only you failed to do that.
On top of the massive debt with which this irresponsible budget burdens Wisconsinites, Assembly Democrats added at least $36 million in earmarks, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary. Simultaneously, leadership killed a transparency amendment that would have required the state to post all expenditures online in a searchable database. Assembly Democrats also killed two other transparency bills earlier this year (AB 120 and AB 196).
While Gov. Doyle may be congratulating himself on having a finished budget before July, Wisconsin taxpayers will not ignore his glib and unrepentant lies about the disintegrating fiscal environment of their state.  The death knell is already sounding for the governor with only 34% of voters approving of his governorship. This $62 billion budget is the latest act of disregard for Wisconsinites and may be the final nail in his coffin.
photo credit: cometstarmoon