Instead of working to comply with a federal law that makes collecting sales tax on internet access charges illegal, 2 different groups are looking at adding more items to the sales tax roll, both to allegedly relieve property tax pressure. Before I explode both plans, as well as the Journal Sentinel call for taxing absolutely, positively everything (with the exception of newspapers), haven’t we tried this before, with the state promising 2/3rds funding for schools? That wasn’t all that successful, as the spend-and-taxers on school boards realized that they just tapped into a bottomless pit.
First, Dem State Senator Jon Erpenbach wants to tax everything except the “necessities of life”, which he and the linked Journal Sentinel story defines as including food, drugs, health care services, shelter, and agricultural products (remember this list, I’ll come back to it later), so that the state can assume full funding for schools. That is a $3 billion/year sales tax increase. Erpenbach wins the Stupid Quote of the Day Award for uttering this gem, “Most everybody, at the end of the day, will have more money in their pocket.” The ONLY groups that will have more money at the end of the day are, in order, the school districts, builders of schools, WEAC, administrators, and teachers. The last vestige of restraint on spending, the risk of running everybody out of town because of skyrocketing property taxes, will be gone.
Erpenbach also wins the runner-up for the Stupid Quote of the Day Award for not saying the corollary to this quote, “For every exemption that was handed out, there was no cut in spending.” Logically, that corollary is, “For every new item taxed, spending will increase by at least the amount taken in by said new tax.”
Next, the Wisconsin Counties Association wants additional sales tax revenue to avoid having to slow down their massive spending appetites. They’re whining that local governments only got 14.8% of all state spending in the current budget, down from the 27% of all state spending they got in the 1989-91 budget. Cry me a river; I’ll lay dollars to donuts that 14.8% this budget represents more money than 27% in the 1989-91 budget. I’ll even throw in a quarter or two for a donut hole that it is greater even after adjusting for inflation. Even if it doesn’t, why in the hell should somebody up in, say, Tomah, pay for, say, retiring Milwaukee County DA E. Michael McCann’s enhanced pension (that’s right; unless I missed something, McCann never signed away one dime of the enhanced pension).
In any case, they want what they term a $700 million/year sales tax increase, with that money diverted to the counties, so they can continue to do stupid stuff like give lavish pensions. Unlike Erpenbach, they actually list their targets – computer, legal, personnel, architectural, engineering, and surveying services, advertising, management consulting, public relations, accounting, beauty salons, barbershops (that’s funny, I paid sales tax on my last haircut), and health clubs. You can safely add another $50 million to the individual counties that levy the 0.5% county sales tax, because I doubt they included that little kicker in there.
Those are the same taxes that Erpenbach wants to raise and divert to schools. Guess the counties will just have to “suffer” with the $250 million in additional sales taxes they’ll get from levying the 0.5% county sales tax (assuming, of course, the Craps’ Department of Revenue coughs up the dough; have they caught up on what they owe the counties yet?).
WCA executive director Mark O’Connell also wants in on the Stupid Quote of the Day competition; he spews out, “We continue to believe that we can tax-cut our way to prosperity when, in reality, the wealth-makers of tomorrow are more interested in a quality of life. If we wish to create a sustainable solution for Wisconsin’s future, we should be investing in our communities, making them attractive to smart young people.” Hey dummy, have you looked at where the jobs are being created lately? It’s not high-tax Wisconsin.
However, they’re both pikers compared to the Journal Sentinel’s Steven Walters and Bob Veierstahler. Walters stresses again and again that they’re “exemptions” and that eliminating them could bring in $3.9 billion per year. He sure seems to want to go one step further and raise the actual rate, pointing out that it was last raised 24 years ago, then whines that nobody in the Capitol wants to do so.
Veierstahler put together a “helpful” chart of exemptions, and what is shocking is what’s included:
- Food, right at the top of the list – Erpenbach and the WCA don’t even want to go that far.
- Fuel – Guess Veierstahler doesn’t think either the gas taxes or gas prices are high enough.
- Sales to state and local governments – Nothing like taxing oneself to inflate the numbers by $228 million.
- Live game birds and clay pigeons – I’ll lay even more dollars to donuts that Veirstahler doesn’t believe there is an individual right to bear arms enshrined in both the state and federal Constitutions.
- Admission to elementary and secondary school events – Well, at least that might cut down a bit on the violence at MPS basketball games.