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The budget crisis in Wisconsin has spurred a national discussion on spending priorities, including among the commentators on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour.
Amanpour asked her guests if the plans in Wisconsin were "shared sacrifice."
"Where is the sacrifice going to be borne the most? And is it equitable?" Amanpour asked.
Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, said it wasn’t.
"Just like the tea party went out there and grabbed the microphone, what you have is grassroots people out there saying, ‘No more,’ no more budget cuts on the back of working people," Brazile said. "The governor has proposed tax giveaways to corporations."
"We're trying to balance the budgets on the backs of the poor and the middle class, and that's why workers are standing up for their rights," she said a little later in the program.
The word "giveaway" is a loaded term for tax cuts, but we feel it’s fair to fact-check whether Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed tax breaks for corporations while advocating budget cuts for public workers.
Walker’s budget proposal asks state workers to pay more for their pensions and health insurance, which reduces take-home pay. But it also sets significant limits on collective bargaining power for most public sector unions, which has enraged union members and sparked protests at the state capitol.
We next looked to see if Walker has proposed tax cuts for corporations.
We found Walker has already signed bills that cut taxes for corporations.
Walker signed a law on Jan. 31 that says that companies that relocate to Wisconsin will not have to pay corporate taxes for two years. The law stipulates that the company must move at least 51 percent of the workers on its payroll or at least those who account for $200,000 in wages. Walker also signed into law a bill that gives small tax breaks to companies that create jobs. It’s debatable whether these could fairly be considered "giveaways," since they are intended to reward companies for creating jobs.
But Walker proposed additional tax breaks for business during the campaign for governor. PolitiFact Wisconsin documented those promises on PolitiFact’s Walk-O-Meter, a database of Walker’s campaign promises. That includes reducing taxes on employers and repealing the "combined reporting" requirement for business taxes, a measure that increased tax revenues and was approved in 2009.
"If you elect me as your next governor, I’ll get government out of the way and lower the tax burden so Wisconsin business owners and factories can create 250,000 jobs and 10,000 businesses in our state by 2015," said Walker during the campaign.
We also found that Walker told the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce during the campaign that he supported efforts to repeal the corporate income tax. Though it’s a fine distinction, we should note that we were not able to find statements from Walker proposing a repeal, so it’s not a promise listed in the Walk-O-Meter database.
Brazile said, "The (Wisconsin) governor has proposed tax giveaways to corporations." The tax breaks he signed into law were linked to job growth, which means they were not necessarily "giveaways." But he has proposed lower taxes for all businesses. And he’s supported those tax cuts even in the face of a tight budget, saying they would lead to job growth. Because Brazile gets Walker’s basic position on business taxes right -- he wants them lower -- we rate her statement Mostly True.
This Week with Christiane Amanpour, transcript, Feb. 21, 2010
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Scott Walker election survey, accessed Feb. 22, 2011
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Walker tells MMAC he supports repealing corporate income tax, Oct. 25, 2010
PolitiFact Wisconsin, Scott Walker campaign promises on taxes, Feb. 22, 2011
Wisconsin Legislature, Wisconsin Act, 2011
The Associated Press, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signs tax cut bill into law; Businesses get break for moving into Wisconsin, Feb. 1, 2011
The Associated Press, Wis. governor signs bill granting tax cuts, Feb. 4, 2011
Scott Walker for Governor campaign website, Scott Walker Unveils Plan to Bring 250,000 Jobs and 10,000 New Businesses to Wisconsin by 2015, accessed Feb. 22, 2011
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