One must give credit where credit is due. Democrat Gov. Tony Evers has had as successful a year as any governor in Wisconsin history, and he did it with strong Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature. He has begun his second term in office with a lengthy string of accomplishments.
Evers was just getting started. Taking the big-spending budget bill crafted by legislative Republicans that already increased spending by almost 10%, Evers used his powerful veto to reshape the budget to his liking.
The biggest change was in the income tax. The Republicans had written a tax cut into the budget that would have simplified and lowered the state income tax such that it would have resulted in a $3.5 billion tax decrease. Evers reshaped the tax plan to where it is actually a $603.4 million tax increase. That is a swing of $4.1 net increase in taxes with a strike of his pen according to the estimate by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The governor does not have the power to appropriate that money, so it will be seen in future years as an unallocated budget surplus that will burn holes in the pockets of politicians. We remember that we entered this budget with a $7 billion budget surplus that was completely spent.
In addition, the governor used his veto pen to give local school districts the power to increase the property tax levy by $325 per pupil per year until the year 2425. That is over four centuries of tax increases that, if local school districts tax to the max like usual, will result in an increase in school spending of $130,650 per student, or $111 billion increase in K-12 taxing and spending with the current student population.
All told, the governor delivered on his campaign promises and advanced his ideology. Under his watch, Wisconsin will see record increases in government spending coupled with record increases of property, sales, and income taxes to support that spending. He has reset the baseline of state government spending to the highest level it has ever been. His party has waged successful campaigns to put radical leftists on the Supreme Court to further protect and advance his ideological beliefs.
Were I a leftist, I would be applauding his success in the face of a Legislature controlled by the oppositions. As a conservative, however, I lament that Evers has pushed Wisconsin into what will be at least a decade of decline.
Pray that it is only a decade.
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