The same anti-tax activists who want North Carolina to import an agenda of steep tax cuts that will benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else now want you to believe that North Carolina would be better off if it were more like Wisconsin. That’s because Wisconsin went down the same road two years ago.
But while Grover Norquist and Patrick Gleason sang the praises of the Wisconsin experiment in a recent opinion piece, a look at the chart below shows the Badger State has taken a sharp turn for the worse since following the advice of the tax-cutting lobbyists.
Wisconsin has fallen out of step with the nation’s already too weak rate of job recovery. And Wisconsin job growth went off the rails just as the Governor’s new budget and new policies were going into effect. There’s precious little to celebrate about Wisconsin’s economy looking at that divergence.
Norquist and Gleason point to a dip in Wisconsin’s unemployment rate and that state’s budget surplus. But unemployment rates can drop without jobs being created when discouraged people give up looking for work. And surpluses can swell when you spend less than is needed for schools, health care and other vital services that bolster the economy in the long run.
It’s clear that the political spin has reached fever pitch in recent days as reality sinks in about what the proposed approach to tax and budget decisions by North Carolina’s Legislature would really mean: tax cuts for the richest, tax hikes for the rest and fewer resources to invest in our state’s future.
The thousands of diverse residents raising the alarm about the proposal can’t bode well for its supporters. Nor can the concerns being voiced by local elected officials, wealthy taxpayers and business leaders. North Carolina has a long way to go to recover the jobs it has lost, and the chance of falling further behind is a risk we shouldn’t want to take.