Marriage, Family, Economy

Wisconsin Family Action’s 2017 Legislative Priorities for MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND ECONOMY:

yellow square


  • Eliminate in its entirety the marriage tax penalty. Begun in the last budget; should be finished in this budget.
    • Wisconsin Family Prosperity Index Report released this past June, shows Wisconsin’s marriage rate in 2016 was the 7th lowest in the country.[1] That bodes very poorly for our state’s future since strong families are the economic driver for our state and nation.
  • Protect the privacy of all Wisconsin students.yellow square
    • The state of Wisconsin currently gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to every school district for the education of the students in its schools. This creates a distinct and definite interest for the state to do what it can reasonably do to ensure the safety and well-being of all students in those schools.
    • Wisconsin has 424 separate school districts. Currently, each district is making up for itself policies dealing with students who are suffering from gender identity issues and gender confusion. Some districts have written policies; others are implementing unwritten, unofficial policies. Having some uniformity in this area is good for the districts and the students.
    • The vast majority of students in Wisconsin’s public schools are minors. They and their rights to privacy and safety must be zealously protected.
    • With the Obama “Dear Colleague” letter (issued May 2016) now enjoined from enforcement while the lawsuit challenging it is working its way through the courts, no school district is forced to implement any provision in that letter.
    • The time is right for the state to issue reasonable directives that protect the privacy rights, safety and wellbeing of all students: a measure that requires schools to designate restrooms, locker rooms, and any/all changing rooms as sex-specific: male or female. Further the bill needs to require that students use the facilities that correspond with their biological sex, as noted on their birth certificate. The bill should provide direction to school districts on how to accommodate exceptions as requested by individual students through their parents (if minors) or by individual students directly (if 18 or over).
  • Create a Child Tax Credit (CTC) that piggybacks on the federal credit.
    • We recommend that a Wisconsin CTC be created as a percentage of the federal credit.
    • Wisconsin families need help. The quickest and simplest way to do that would be to create this CTC. According to 2014 IRS data (the latest available), the federal CTC was worth $569 million to Wisconsin families and, due to the phase-out, accrued to families earning less than $200,000. As such, a 5 percent Wisconsin CTC would only cost $28.5 million. A more generous 10 percent CTC would cost $57 million.
  • Begin addressing programs that dis-incentivize marriage by incentivizing women not to marry the father of their children (g., SNAP, WIC, BadgerCare Plus, Wisconsin Shares); see pp. 25-31 of Wisconsin Family Council’s Wisconsin’s Cultural Indicator, 2014 Edition.[2]
    • Wisconsin Family Action is not intending that the programs should be eliminated but that they should be structured in ways that encourage the women to either marry or, at a minimum, to get employed or pursue additional education for better employment.
    • These programs cost the state, and thus the taxpayers, hundreds of millions of dollars every year and promote a family structure that does not contribute, on average, to the general well-being of our state. (See pp. 4-24, WFC’s Cultural Indicators 2014)
  • Eliminate same-sex-only, statewide domestic partnership registry, established through the state budget (2009-2010) (Wis. Stats., Chapter 770).
    • With marriage redefined in Wisconsin by judicial fiat to include people of the same sex, this registry is unnecessary and allows for a blatant inequity between persons in same-sex relationships and persons in opposite-sex relationships. It is altogether appropriate that it be removed through the same mechanism by which it was enacted—the state budget.
    • This past spring, Dane County and Milwaukee County clerks unilaterally announced that they were going to allow opposite-sex couple to get domestic partnership licenses, as defined in Wis. Stats., Chapter 770. The AG’s office declined to challenge. In order to maintain the rule of law and not have county clerks making law, this registry should be eliminated. In addition, the existence of this registry undermines real marriage.
  • Eliminate state employee domestic partnership registry that gives health-care benefits and other benefits, through the Public Employee Trust Fund, to unmarried cohabiting employees, regardless of sexual orientation (Wis. Stats., Chapter 40).
    • This registry costs the state money while also promoting and encouraging relationships that are not in the state’s best interest, “family structures” that, again, cost the state rather than contribute to the general economic well-being of the state.
  • Conform to the federal Bonus Depreciation rules. Wisconsin’s entrepreneurship rank among the 50 states in the Family Prosperity Index (FPI) has been at or near the bottom.[3] The most recent trend has been encouragingly upward: 2012 FPI: 50th; 2013 FPI: 49th; 2014 FPI: 50th; 2015 FPI: 50th; 2016 FPI: 48th; 2017 FPI: 47th
    • Wisconsin recently conformed to the federal Section 179 deduction for small businesses, but did not conform to the federal Bonus Depreciation (BD). It is recommended that Wisconsin conform to federal BD rules. Bonus depreciation is a valuable tax-saving tool for businesses. It allows businesses to take an immediate first-year deduction of 50% deduction on the purchase of eligible business property.
    • This will not only boost investment, but also reduce tax compliance costs for businesses because they will not need to manage two sets of depreciation schedules. This is not insignificant as the Tax Foundation recently estimated that complying with the federal tax code costs taxpayers over $400 billion annually—state non-conformity compounds these costs.
  • Gambling yellow square
    • Wisconsin Family Action will publicly and aggressively oppose any and all efforts to expand gambling in any form in Wisconsin, including but not limited to “registering” and/or “regulating” Daily Fantasy Sports, which would be the legalizing of online gambling in the state, which is currently illegal.

[1], p. 13.