Scott Walker proclaimed "Wisconsin is Open for Business" loudly after his election in 2010, but it's been open for business to screw us long before that. Walker just made it easier and more profitable.
Sadly, I can't get the video to embed, but it's well worth watching (transcript provided below the video).
FOX6 investigated the tax records of 25 of the largest companies operating in Wisconsin. A handful — like Home Depot, Microsoft, Exxon-Mobil, and Harley-Davidson are paying millions of dollars in state income taxes. The vast majority of corporations are avoiding them. More than two-thirds did not pay any state income taxes from 2010 to 2011.(bolding is mine)
A.O. Smith, Actuant, Brady, Briggs & Stratton, Fiserv, GE, Joy Global, MillerCoors, Rockwell Automation and several others all paid no state income taxes.
Bucyrus paid no income tax in 2010 and 2011 before being bought by Caterpillar — but in those years, it garnered more than $20 million in corporate income tax credits, cash grants and loans.
That's right, 2/3 of the 25 top businesses in Wisconsin paid NO state taxes at all. And what's worse, is that most of them are getting tax credits and subsidies from the state as well as local and county governments. Sweet deal for them.
However, Walker still thinks business pays too much.
Walker has said on many occasions that his goal is to lower the overall tax burden. Corporate taxation is a complicated topic. In addition to paying state income taxes, companies also pay property and unemployment taxes.10% of our state budget goes to tax credits for business. $1.5 billion dollars and hundreds of millions of that goes to businesses that pay no taxes.
A FOX6 analysis of the last two state budgets shows that the state of Wisconsin spends at least $1.5 billion a year on tax credits for businesses — that’s ten percent of the state budget, or about 270 dollars per person.
“Until we can lower the overall rates, we want to have at least some ammunition to go after these employers and to keep them here,” Walker said in an interview.
A recent survey of 341 Wisconsin CEOs shows business leaders feel squeezed by the state.
LET ME REPEAT THAT: One out of every $10 in our state budget goes directly into the hands of business in the form of tax credits! And that doesn't even factor in the loans and direct subsidies these guys are getting from WEDC.
How can business still claim to be "squeezed" by the state when they've never had it so good?
Of course, Walker and his Republican band of Not So Merry Men aren't outraged at that. Not one bit. Their outrage is saved for the poor and working people in this state who have suffered cut after cut after cut to education, opportunity, social services, and even basic government services because of Walkers slice and dice approach to budgeting.
His largess has been saved for his pals and campaign donors. He even closed the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and replaced it with a quasi-private agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which started handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in "loans" (of which records were promptly "lost") and "subsidies" into the ever grasping hands of business. Naturally, Walker appointed himself to head that agency as well as a plethora of his cronies.
Business gets the bucks and everyone else gets the shaft. It's the Walker Way.
Provide 10% of the state budget to business, ensure that pals don't pay a cent, but make sure to not only refuse Medicaid expansion, but reduce eligibility from 130% of poverty level (a really low level) to 100% of poverty level so you kick 92,000 Wisconsinites off Medicaid. Worse, none of those folks qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act because it was designed to subsidize those who don't qualify for Medicaid and not those who do. Double Bonus Walker Way (reward friends and bash poor people some more).
To be fair, this has been going on since before Walker, but it's on steroids now. Same modus operendi as always, too: threaten to leave and layoff workers unless they get what they want. States and local communities always cough up what business wants, too, in order to save those jobs in an economy where unemployment is high. But even if unemployment isn't high, business generally gets what they want anyway, the same way sports teams always seem to squeeze tax money for new facilities; the threats repeated often get taken seriously and they get what they want with taxpayers footing the bill.
It's not a whole lot better on the federal level with many of our largest corporations paying no taxes.
It's time for this to change.