I have the highest respect for Rick Chandler. He earned it as head of the state’s “budget shop” in the Department of Administration a few years ago.
I must, however, take issue with his defense of business taxes in Wisconsin.
The argumet over whether Wisconsin businesses carry their fair share of the tax burden gets admitedly muddied by the imprecise language of speakers like MMSD Superintendent Art Rainwater (Wisconsin State Journal) when he talked about “taxes” without specifying which taxes.
Confusion on the part of business tax critics is no reason for Rick to mistate the argument as one about whether businesses pay their fair share of property taxes.
That’s not the argument. The true issue is whether businesses pay their fair share of the state taxes necessary to provide an adequate level of state aid for school districts.
They don’t. The record is clear, according to the business community’s own Forward Wisconsin. If you visit the Web site of this shameless corporate cheerleader, you’ll read more than one item that contradicts Chandler. For example:
Wisconsin business taxes are lower than those in 35 other states. That’s the conclusion of a new study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston that measures more than 15 taxes that can affect corporate profits.
Wisconsin ranks fourth lowest in the nation in business taxes as a percent of all state and local taxes. The state’s business-friendly attitude is reflected in positive business tax changes that have been made in every biennial legislative session since the early 1970s.
If the current “business-friendly attitude” continues in the state legisalture, we’ll soon see the decline — not only of school spending — but in student achievement.