Milwaukee Skyline 2023 by Bfkenney is licensed under Bfkenney, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

It’s not just in Washington and state capitals like Albany and Sacramento where politicians seek to raise taxes. Local cash grabs are also an ever-present threat for Americans, particularly residents of blue cities. Take Milwaukee, where the Democrat-run local government recently decided to double the sales tax for the county.  

With this recent sales tax increase, enacted on July 14, Milwaukee Democrats are trying to cover up overspending and failure to reform their unsustainable pension program. While Milwaukee Democrats don’t mind that this tax hike was enacted just in time for the 2024 RNC and will hit Republican convention goers, the Democrat-leaning residents of Milwaukee will bear the brunt of this tax hike. 

Milwaukee officials first proposed the sales tax hike back in June to avoid necessary reductions in spending. The Milwaukee Common Council approved a two-percentage point sales tax increase on July 11, taking the rate from 5.5% to 7.5%, which amounts to a more than 36% rate increase. County officials approved another 0.4% hike on July 27. Both increases will go into effect this coming January.  

In total, with an already 5.5% sales tax rate in Milwaukee, which includes its 5% state sales tax and a 0.5% county tax, the tax hike recently enacted by local officials in Milwaukee will result in a whopping 44% increase in sales tax rate paid by Milwaukee residents and visitors when all is said and done. With this tax hike Milwaukee will siphon an additional $82.2 million from the private economy.  

This tax hike will not remedy Milwaukee’s real problem, which is overspending. The city is projected to earn an estimated $193 million from the first year, but will this end the threat of bankruptcy? While Milwaukee is projected to have a surplus in their budget this coming year, by 2026 Milwaukee County is still projected to have spending outpace tax collections by $13 million. 

Even before the voting for this increase, many critics warned against increasing the sales tax. One of the County Supervisors, Ryan Clancy, voted against the tax increase. Part of his stance for voting against the increase is that organizations are simply going to reach for these new funds without any plan on how to properly spend it.

Lower income households will be disproportionately harmed by this sales tax increase and making ends meet will become even more difficult for many, especially in this time of high inflation. Another one of his biggest concerns is that this tax increase will not remain temporary but will become permanent as local government becomes dependent on the additional stream of revenue.

“This sales tax was touted to us as something temporary, so maybe we’ll have to for 15 to 30 years. It will outlive all of us,” said Supervisor Clancy.  

So, what other solutions can be offered instead of raising this sales tax that can affect thousands of people? There could be other cuts in programs that are not necessary and can be seen as “wasteful spending.” There have been states that have moved away from pensions and instead do retirement funds. “Most companies have replaced pension plans with 401(k) plans due to the high ongoing liabilities involved in managing the plan,” per an article from the Beagle.  

Governments will always continue to overspend any amount of money they are given. The more money you give governments, the faster they are likely to spend it. Tax increases are never reversed, and instead drain the American taxpayers of hard-earned paychecks.