The state received good news again last week. After eight years of tax cuts, pro-growth reforms, and keeping government spending in check, we received news our state tax collections are going to be higher than expected by $75.5 million in 2019. This news comes on the heels of a previous upgrade in collection estimates in May by $592 million.

In addition to this news, our state Budget Stabilization or “rainy day” Fund is expected to rise to $649 million, the highest level in state history. It was only $1.7 million in 2010.

In Madison, we often have debates over what is better for the state. Should we raise taxes to fund more government or lower taxes because you know how to spend your money more wisely than the government? Will tax cuts take away from education and other priorities? Will raising taxes reduce economic growth? By looking at history I think the answers are clear.

Over the last eight years, under complete Republican leadership, there has been over $8 billion in cumulative state and local tax cuts. At the same time, tax collections have increased by 34%. In the eight years prior to Republican leadership, a period that saw four budgets, each with tax increases, tax collections increased only 27%.

Since Republicans were put in charge, income tax brackets were collapsed and rates were cut twice for a cumulative $2.4 billion in income tax rate cuts over eight years. The results: In 2019 we collected $2.3 billion more in individual income taxes than we did in 2011.

How does this compare to the eight years that former Governor Doyle, a Democrat, was in office? Over those eight years, individual income taxes went up only $1.6 billion — much less than over the last eight years. After Democrats succeeded in raising individual income taxes in 2009, it took four years for individual income tax collections to exceed collections from 2008.

We are also seeing more individuals in the workforce and higher incomes. There were more than three million returns in 2017 compared to only 2.9 million in 2011. Adjusted gross income increased from $141 billion in 2011 compared to $174 billion in 2017.

Tax cuts haven’t taken away from education spending either. Because of our growing state tax collections, we are providing more in-state aid for our schools than ever before. The largest increase in special education spending ever and a doubling of mental health funding was also just passed in the state budget. In contrast, in 2009, after increasing taxes, state school aid was actually cut.

Our economy is also better than it has been for maybe a generation, if not ever. Our state unemployment rate has been hovering around 3% for nearly three years. Of the 22 months, the state unemployment rate was 3% or lower, all but three occurred since 2017. From 2003 to 2010 the unemployment rate was never below 4.3%.

Unfortunately, Governor Evers proposed doing a complete reversal from these successful policies. He wanted to increase taxes by over $1 billion. He wanted to grow the number of individuals on welfare instead of creating more growth. Thankfully, the Republican Legislature cut taxes and didn’t expand welfare.

Governor Evers did have the good sense to sign the budget Republicans passed that included tax cuts and continued pro-growth policies. Thanks to Republicans, families will continue to save thousands in income and property taxes.

The data seems clear. The state’s finances are in good shape. The policies enacted over the last eight years have put the state in this position. Governor Evers inherited a great situation built on tax cuts and pro-growth reforms. Instead of trying to reverse the course we are on, he should welcome and give the state taxpayers, the engine of our economy, a hearty thank you.

The EagleHerald has invited elected officials serving our area, as well as key city and county officials, to write occasional columns for our Opinion page, which allows them to share their views on certain issues. This column was written by State Rep. John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette, who represents the 89th District in the Wisconsin Assembly.