Friday, March 11, 2011

Walker's No Tax-Increase Budget? Calling PolitiFact...Hello?

It's been noted more than once on this blog (sample, here), and by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the Wisconsin State Journal that Scott Walker's budget includes changes in the way low-income working Wisconsinites can use a federal tax credit when filing their state income tax forms.

From the budget text, page 23:

"Reduce the percentages of the federal earned income tax credit that can be claimed for Wisconsin in line with national averages while still maintaining a focus on reducing child poverty to realize savings of $41.3 million over the biennium."
For some, the reduction in the amount of federal tax credit claimed will trigger a larger state income tax obligation.

Citing non-partisan state computations, the Journal Sentinel reported that 23% of Wisconsin residents eligible for the federal tax credit would see their state tax bill go up as a result of the Walker budget proposal.

Good that the paper tackled what is admittedly a complex matter - - so can Walker really claim a no-tax-increase budget?

Same question when it comes to tuition assessed by the UW system through state budgetary permission and policy.

The budget on page 11 calls for a "modest tuition increase."

While the percentage or dollar amount increase is not specified, an increase is an increase.

Can Walker claim with a straight face that state-imposed tuition is not a tax or an assessment of some kind on students? Or at least is a fee, which these days is often synonymous for tax, or a substitute, since all gather in revenue for services provided, regardless of the wording?

Tuition payment can be lowered or delayed through grants, or scholarships or loans, but complying with the bill is not voluntary. Sounds like a tax or fee to me.

We've seen Walker use such parsed revenue rhetoric elsewhere.

Remember when his support for new road tolls was not a violation of his long-standing opposition to tolls - - because the charges he said he'd support were just for motorists who wanted to drive in the fast lane.

So...some tolls aren't tolls.

And some tax increases...well...if they hit the poor, that doesn't count.

And mandated, added tuition, collected from tens of thousands of students and parents - - what is that? An academic, state-mandated-brain-training-revenue-enhancer?

But certainly not a tax increase, or anything that suggests it?

PolitiFact? Are you on it?

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