Live from somewhere in Iowa, Gov. Scott Walker stepped off the campaign stump for a phone interview with Glenn Beck, a nationally syndicated conservative radio talk show host.
While rattling off a series of reforms since he became governor in 2010, Walker circled back to one of his favorite talking points: tax cuts.
"By the end of this budget I’m in right now, taxes will have been cut $4.7 billion in my state," Walker said in the Aug. 17, 2015 interview.
Last year, we checked a claim from Walker that tax cuts for his first term tallied $2 billion. We rated that True, based on numbers from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which is considered the gold standard on state fiscal matters.
Now that some time has passed, and the boasted-about number is $2.7 billion larger, we thought we’d do some updated bean counting.
We recently dealt with the tax-cut picture under Walker in rating one of his 2014 campaign promises -- return any surplus to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts -- as In the Works.
The item noted that a fiscal bureau estimate said that between 2015 and 2017, the impact of cuts by Walker and Republican lawmakers to sales, franchise, property and other taxes are expected to total $2.8 billion. That period represents the current two-year budget.
The vast majority of that total comes from the continuing impact of cuts from Walker’s first term, such as a 2011 manufacturing and industry tax cut, and a 2013 income and property tax cut.
New cuts in the 2015-’17 budget are projected to reduce taxes by $213 million by 2017, according to the fiscal bureau. Of course, the numbers are projections. So the total once the current two-year budget ends June 30, 2017 may vary.
When Walker number-dropped the $4.7 billion, he was mentioning reforms that have taken place since he took office, such as defunding Planned Parenthood (which he did in his first budget) and passing Act 10 (which he did in 2011).
So it’s clear he wasn’t talking just about the current budget.
Adding Walker’s first term cuts to the ones in the current budget, tax cuts are projected at more than $4.7 billion. To be exact: $4,756,630,000.
That gives Walker about $56 million in wiggle room.
Jon Peacock, the director of Wisconsin Budget Project and research director at the left-leaning Wisconsin Council of Children and Families, said the numbers Walker was relying on were solid.
But he noted the numbers did not include several changes that resulted in increases, such as a reduction in the earned income tax credit and the homestead credit. Peacock estimates between 2011 and 2016, those increases will exceed $250 million.
Factor that in, and total tax cuts would be projected at about $4.5 billion.
On the other hand, Walker’s numbers are not adjusted for inflation, so the $4.7 billion in tax cuts would be even more if it were adjusted.
A final note: To be sure, tax cuts are just one part of the picture. To attain them, Walker’s budgets have also included numerous -- and controversial -- cuts to education and other areas. But the claim is on the size of the tax cuts, and that is what we are evaluating.
In an interview with Glenn Beck, Walker said "by the end of this budget I'm in right now, taxes will have been cut $4.7 billion in my state."
That figure holds up, based on numbers from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
We rate his claim True