Wisconsin’s new Republican Governor Scott Walker has rushed to make hay out of the Illinois Assembly’s decision to raise individual and corporate tax rates, urging Illinois residents and businesses to move to Wisconsin. But, ironically, Illinois residents who move to Wisconsin should bank on paying higher taxes.
Conservatives like Walker have insisted on using the figure that Illinois is increasing taxes by a whopping 66 percent. While this is factually accurate, it’s misleading as it makes the tax increase seem much bigger than it actually is. Illinois tax rates will only go from 3 to 5 percent (hence 66 percent increase), representing a total increase in tax rates of just 2 percent. This will allow Illinois to solve a massive $15 billion budget deficit without gutting state programs. But even with this increase, tax rates for individuals will still be lower than in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has different tax brackets; the lowest income rate if you make over $11,000 is 6.15 percent. The highest rate is 7.75 percent. Bloomberg noted this yesterday:
Absent from Walker’s sales pitch was the fact that Wisconsin’s top income tax rates remain higher than Illinois even under the increase … Walker hasn’t yet proposed lowering the state’s income or corporate tax rates.
But this didn’t stop Fox New host Neil Cavuto yesterday from insisting that Illinois is experiencing a “tax storm.” Nor did it stop Walker from calling on Illinois residents to “escape to Wisconsin”:
CAVUTO: That storm [blizzard in the northeast] is nothing compared to this one — a tax storm and in Illinois a big one. Democratic Governor Pat Quinn is set to sign a 66 percent hike in the state’s income tax… Governor, what do you make of this?
WALKER: Well I got a simple message… I pulled this out of the archives, we used to have this for tourism, its a bumper sticker that says “escape to Wisconsin.” And instead of sending it to tourists, we are going to send it to employers, because boy with their taxes going up through the roof we want them to come to Wisconsin…
Instead of following the responsible budgeting in Illinois, Walker is proposing to increase taxes on the working poor in Wisconsin by cutting the state’s earned income tax credit.