Wisconsin budget group offers alternatives to avoid possible budget cuts Submitted: 04/20/2015

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MADISON - The Wisconsin Budget Project argues state lawmakers can avoid budget cuts without raising taxes. Wisconsin Budget Project Director Jon Peacock says some cuts, like the ones to the UW System, can easily be avoided.

The group's policy paper argues that the state needs to accept federal money to expand the state's BadgerCare program. They argue that would help avoid budget cuts.

"We can cover more [people] in BadgerCare, avoid some cuts to BadgerCare that the governor has proposed, and still have a net increase of more than $345 million," Peacock said.

The group argues that the state could find additional revenue from three sources totaling $782 million; accepting federal money for Medicaid (BadgerCare in Wisconsin), stopping a property tax cut, and capping tax breaks for manufactures.

The Wisconsin Budget Project believes the state should freeze the Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit. Based on Legislative Fiscal Bureau information, the credit will mean $285 million less money for the state in 2017 when it is totally phased in.

"It's not a well targeted tax break for corporations," Peacock said. "They get that tax credit whether they're laying off people or adding employees."

Some political experts don't expect to see these changes with Republicans controlling the legislature. Wisconsin is the only Great Lakes state to not accept the Medicaid funding, but Peacock believes Wisconsin could take the money in the future.

"Lots of states have, and in some cases Arizona and other states, they've made accepting that money and expanding their Medicaid programs, contingent upon federal continuation of it," Peacock said.

The Wisconsin Budget Project policy paper also argues the state should freeze property tax cuts to avoid cuts. The more than $200 million dollar tax credit will mean about a $5 savings each year on property taxes on a $150,000 home.

"We'd all love to see our property taxes frozen or better yet to come down, but at some point there is a matter of priorities," Peacock said.

The budget has seen some changes lately. The Joint Finance Committee removed 14 policies from the proposed budget last week.

Related Weblinks:
Policy Paper

Story By: Adam Fox

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