Economics

Wisconsin Bails Itself Out With Tax Increases

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I know life in Wisconsin isn't always as thrilling as the fast-paced excitement of Washington, D.C. But surely things aren't so bad in the Badger State that the people find tax hikes stimulating.

Like a lot of states, Wisconsin is looking at a budget shortfall in the next few years. So the state is putting together its own stimulus package, just like the big dogs in Washington. But unlike the federal stimulus, which contains a large dose of tax cuts, Wisconsin's includes tax increases.

Most of the stimulus package is just pre-approval for the spending of federal stimulus dollar once they arrive. But the bill would also raise taxes on businesses, including requiring companies based in the state to start calculating their tax liability in a way that includes money earned outside the state. Supporters say they are closing the "Las Vegas Loophole" (NOTE: What's with all the hate for Vegas lately, Democrats?).

Another provision that's sneaking into the stimulus package: A so-called iPod tax, which would attempt to extract sales tax from some online transactions, including music downloads. The iPod tax idea has been floating around the legislature since at least 2005, demonstrating once again that everything old is new again when it's part of a "stimulus" package.

Could we be in for a reenactment of the stimulus vote in Congress, where careful pork parsing failed to buy bipartisan love? The Wisconsin State Journal reports:

Assembly and Senate Republican leaders criticized the bill and said their GOP colleagues would overwhelmingly oppose it—despite the inclusion of transportation projects in their districts that are expected to create or save jobs and tax credits for business investments.

"The overall aspect of raising taxes by a half-billion dollars on businesses and the people of the state of Wisconsin outshadows anything that they could have put positively in this bill," said Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, the top Assembly Republican.