The Corner

Question for Scott Walker Recall Fans

Supporters of the recall of Republican governor Scott Walker want him out of office because of his attempt to balance the state’s finances through structural reforms and slowing the growth of spending.

Over at Reason, Nick Gillespie has a question for “Scott Walker Recall Fans”: If you guys want more spending, or don’t want to cut spending, how do you plan to pay for it? This is a serious question. Whether we are talking about the Greeks, the French, or the anti-Walker activists in Wisconsin, the question of how new or current spending will be paid for or how deficit gaps will be closed is always overlooked. With taxes? If so, how much higher should Wisconsin’s taxes be? He reminds us:

According to the Tax Foundation, in 2009, Wisconsin had the fourth-highest combined state and local tax burden in the country, with only New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut residents paying more. 2009 is the latest year available for this figure, but there’s little reason to believe much if anything has changed. In 2009, the Tax Foundation found that Wisconsin residents paid 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes. The compared to 12.3 for New Jersey residents (the highest rate) and 6.3 percent for Alaskans (the lowest rate).

Wisconsin has historically been a high-tax state – in 1985 for instance, it had the second-highest combined state and local tax rate in the nation, at 12 percent – but it seems unlikely that increasing taxes to spend more money (or borrowing more money to be paid back later via tax revenues) is a smart way to boost a flagging economy.

More debt is hardly the answer for Wisconsin:

Going into the last budgeting process, Wisconsin faced a deficit of $3.6 billion on what became a $66 billion budget. Wisconsin already has one of the worst debt-loads per capita in the country and its economy is on life support. Borrowing and taxing more aren’t an option.

I would really be interested to hear what the pro-recall people have to say on this issue. Seriously.

For more on Wisconsin and its economy go here.

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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