It has been a busy week to keep up with if you are at all interested in the state of the economy in Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers introduced his first budget yesterday, and the spending increases alone are enough to fill a news cycle. Here is just a sample of the happenings of this week, in case you missed it:
Thanks to an open records request from the MacIver Institute, it has been revealed the Evers’ administration is reversing the past trends of fiscal responsibility that the state has been used to. Evers’ cabinet secretaries are enjoying a massive increase in pay compared to what their Walker administration counterparts made last year. As just one example, DOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson will be taking in 23 percent more than Walker DOT Secretary Dave Ross.
The MacIver Institute examined the state of the Wisconsin budget in its latest “Our Wisconsin” scorecard series. By comparing Gov. Walker’s first budget to his last budget, we can see just how well the economy recovered. Some examples: Wisconsin has gone from a rainy day fund of $16.6 million to $320.1 million in 2018. The Wisconsin budget went from weak when Scott Walker took office, to very strong when he left office.
On Wednesday, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that debt held by U.S farms jumped from $385 billion to $409 billion. These are levels that have not been seen since the farm crisis of the 1980s. While interest rates have stayed relatively low, keeping the cost of borrowing affordable, there is greater vulnerability of a potential farming crisis caused by low prices, extreme weather, and loss of exports due to trade disputes with China.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its data collected in the 3rd quarter of 2018. Wisconsin had a GDP growth of 2.8 percent. These numbers put Wisconsin at a rank of 29th in the nation—relatively in line with other Midwestern states. Manufacturing had a strong quarter, growing at 3.8 percent. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector was the only industry to see negative growth, decreasing by 0.22 percent in that quarter.
Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Stephen Moore wrote an op-ed for the Boston Herald about the effects of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. States such as New York and California, which had high tax rates before and after the TCJA went into effect, have seen massive amounts of people leave the states for states with lower rates such as Arizona, Texas, Tennessee, Florida and Utah. Because of taxpayers fleeing, New York has an estimated loss of tax revenue of $2.3 billion.