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Tony Evers Uses ONE WEIRD TRICK To Increase Wisconsin School Funds Annually For Next 400 Years, Not A Typo
Best gubernatorial trolling ever.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) made creative use of his "partial veto" power this week to sign into law a state budget bill that originally covered only two years of school spending, converting it into an annual increase in funding per student for the next 402 years . It was a pretty neat trick; Evers removed some words, a few numerals, and a hyphen so that the annual increase of $325 per student per year wouldn't be limited to the coming school year through the 2024-25 school year, but instead through Anno Domini 2425. Like so:
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes that the $325 per student budget increase is the largest boost in school spending ever in Wisconsin. Evers told reporters Wednesday that his modification to the bill's text will "provide school districts with predictable long-term increases for the foreseeable future." And then some!
Evers made some four dozen other changes to the budget passed last week by Wisconsin's Republican-dominated, heavily gerrymandered state Legislature, although as far as we can tell, none of the other edits was quite so brilliantly sweeping.
While he was at it, Evers mostly undid the Republicans' bizarre $3.5 billion tax cut plan, which reduced the number of tax brackets from four to three, as well as cramming couples making up to $405,550 annually into the same bracket as those making $36,840. Then Republicans called it a "middle class" tax cut, even though only 1.8 percent of American households overall make more than $400,000 annually. Wasn't that creative of Wisconsin Republicans? The Journal-Sentinel 'splains:
The Republican plan would have reduced the top tax rate of 7.65% to 6.5%, which amounts to a 15% reduction for the top earners in the state who earn as a married couple $405,550 or more annually. The second-highest rate, which covers married filers who earn between $36,840 and $405,550 annually, would have been reduced by about 17%, from 5.3% to 4.4%. Evers vetoed both changes.
He kept in place reductions for the third-highest tax rate which covers those who earn $36,840 and less as a couple. That rate would go from 4.65% to 4.4%, or a 5.4% reduction, and the bottom rate would slightly reduce from 3.54% to 3.5%.
Not surprisingly, Republicans howled that Evers had vetoed their "middle class" tax cut that included a lot of very rich people. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) cried great big tears about Evers's cruelty to the middle class folks and the very rich people joining them in a single bracket:
Legislative Republicans worked tirelessly over the last few months to block Governor Evers’ liberal tax and spending agenda. Unfortunately, because of his powerful veto authority, he reinstated some of it today. [...]
Vetoing tax cuts on the top two brackets provides hardly any tax relief for truly middle-class families. His decision also creates another economic disadvantage for Wisconsin, leaving our top bracket higher than most of our neighboring states, including Illinois.
Hey, we have a suggestion for how to avoid that! You could not make ridiculous changes to the tax brackets, such that extremely well-off people get the same lower tax rates as people who actually are in the middle class. We like to help.
In addition to the school funding and tax cut changes, Evers also got rid of a Republican plan to eliminate 188 jobs in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from the University of Wisconsin system, and reallocated a $10 million Republican grant to Milwaukee's tourism bureau for next year's GOP national convention. Instead, $1 million will go to Milwaukee's tourist agency and $9 million to the state's Department of Tourism.
Evers also kept funding for the state's Department of Natural Resources at the amount Republicans had budgeted, but struck out several specific earmarked projects, so the DNR can direct funding to projects as it deems necessary.
To override the vetoes, Republicans in the state Assembly would have to get three Democrats to join all the Republicans, or maybe schedule a vote when a few Democrats are absent from the chamber. Republicans briefly had a supermajority in the Assembly, but then in April, Assemblyman Dan Knodl won a special election to the state Senate, and his seat has not yet been filled.
In the long term, we suspect that Evers's school funding increase may not actually last another four centuries. But as a reply to years of Republican fuckery, including the GOP's ultimately failed efforts to gut the governors' powers, we think it was a pretty good move.
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