The Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature tossed in a bombshell as the State budget shapes up in Madison.
According to the Legislative Reference Bureau, a non-partisan State agency, yet another tax break for wealthy out-of-state corporations to the tune of $359.7 million dollars in the next five years and an annual cost shifting to individual taxpayers of $128.7 million dollars.
The corporate share of maintaining our State was 7.4%. In the prosperous 1950’s corporations were able to thrive while paying 14%. By 2016 this will be absolutely nothing. Instead, budget cuts to the elderly, children and their education, and all sorts of programs that support the high quality of life Wisconsin residents need will be affected permanently.
Republican State Senator Glenn Grothman pronounced these cost shifts away from corporations onto the backs of Wisconsin residents as well worth it. “This improves the tax climate big time for manufacturers–and manufacturer’s bring money into the state,” said Grothman. “If we have a strong manufacturing sector we will automatically have a strong retail climate and a strong service sector.”
It should be pointed out to Grothman and the delighted Wisconsin Association of Manufacturers which owns him that it was not illegal or impossible to do business in the State of Wisconsin prior to this new bit of largesse for already wealth bloated corporations.
These same Republican lawmakers brag that they worked to cut only $1.6 billion from education in Wisconsin rather than $1.7 billion. They really should have the courage to cut education completely out of the budget and drive Wisconsin families with children to educate their kids on their own. For the jobs coming to the state will be in the low wage, non-family supporting “service sector.” That is what Grothman and the Wisconsin Association of Manufacturers see for the future of our children.
And now there is another $128.7 million dollars a year in cuts to make since they would never raise taxes, on the rest of us to aid these poor, helpless, weak, innocent corporate businesses that could not possibly operate in Wisconsin without it.
Of course, people of color, the elderly, the immigrant, the poor, the out of work, the hard-working Wisconsin residents whose wages are stagnant or dropping can pick this up with no trouble. Or can they? Or would they? We are going to see.
One thing is clear by this latest move, coming too late for Democrats and their constituencies complain about it before it is law, is that Republican voters who are not corporate citizens would be fools to cut their own throats yet again for the citizens who are so privileged in our State already.
Remember, the Federal Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United makes corporations individual Americans and people. It now must be argued that the Fourteenth Amendment rights of non-corporate American citizens are being violated by the special privileges given to corporate citizens and not to the rest of us. The right to the “equal protection of the laws,” that is, its equal application to all of us is being violated here.
It is also the latest bit of class warfare. It is also an immense amount of corporate welfare. We have just made the largest cut in funding for public education in the States’ history. Opposite that we have just given the greatest business tax break yet seen in this session of the legislature. And they are not done yet.
It is clear that Grothman and his allies envision a Wisconsin with a poorly educated and docile work force that is almost entirely in the service sector. Why support a first class public education system for your children if all they can get are low-wage service sector jobs for the rest of their lives?
Wealthy Wisconsin residents can tutor their children or send them to elite private academies and to colleges and universities elsewhere if they wish. The rest of us depend on pbulic education right here in Wisconsin and our state universty system.
This latest tax break is candidly not needed for business to succeed in Wisconsin. What is needed are corporations and businesses that want customers. Customers come from people who have good jobs and enough disposable income to spend.
And the long-range future of any State in this Union is driven by the quality of the education received by its residents. We do not prepare for that future by gutting education to the tune of $1.6 billion.
And we do not promote the kind of quality of life and the kind of communitarian values that make life worth living in Wisconsin by these very deliberate and conscious decisions to favor the wealthy over the weak.
It would be enlightening to know how many Republican legislators profess any faith or mode of ethics. Were they to say they are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, or simply people with family values or a system of ethics where doing the right thing comes into play they would be forced to concede that they are violating their core moral values.
The Wisconsin State Bienniel Budget prioritizes the powerful, wealthy, well-connected and privileged over the powerless, the poor, the less-connected and those without any special privilege granted by belonging to for lack of a better term “the ruling class.”
Both on the State level and the Federal level, what is left of government is pressing out a view and acting on that program to divide the nation into a small elite with all the wealth and privilege from the masses of humanity that occupy this country and claim a common citizenship in it and with that citizenship, the right to have a say in what happens to them.
The nation’s leaders on the Republican side have sided completely with the power brokers of business and only do their bidding. The Democrats at least remain concerned about the ordinary citizen and their welfare and their children’s welfare.
This budget proposal is socially irresponsible in the extreme and morally bankrupt. Struggles For Justice condemns it in the strongest terms and metaphorically spits in disgust at the feet of Grothman, and the Fitzgerald’s, and Walkers of this world. We are rightly ashamed of you and we pity you. For you lack any moral compass and you are not acting in the interests of those who elected you to serve. And worst of all, you are condemning the next generation of Wisconsin kids to lesser opprtunity and gross inequality not seen since the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century. Your shame runs deep and the smell of it is strong where you sit and govern in the State capitol.