Increased revenues could be used to fund job training, education and health care
(Madison)— The gap in pay between women and men is not only hurting Wisconsin’s working families but is depriving the state of $550 million per year, or $1.1 billion per biennium, in lost tax revenue due to women earning less than they otherwise would if the gap did not exist.
According to research conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families, the pay gap is costing Wisconsin’s working families $8,017,801,719 annually. As a result, the state itself is losing over $550 million per year in income tax revenues that could be used to restore funding to public schools, BadgerCare and Family Care or much-needed jobs training.
“People who supported repealing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act (EPEA) don’t want to acknowledge that the pay gap exists, much less the need to more strictly enforce it,” said Senator Hansen, Senate author of the EPEA. “But it is real and, not only are Wisconsin women and their families paying a steep price, the state is paying a steep price, too. The lost revenue could have been used to avoid many of the draconian cuts the GOP enacted.”
For example, if the wage gap were closed, 1.1 billion in income taxes would have completely paid for every cut to K-12 education in Wisconsin, which came to almost $1.1 billion in Gov. Walker’s budget (LFB Summary Budget Document, pp. 536).
Or, the $1.1 billion could have prevented similarly deep cuts to BadgerCare, aid to local governments, and funding for our universities and technical colleges. (LFB Summary Budget Document, Table 9).
“This is another example of the Republicans supporting policies that put the interests of their corporate donors first, at everyone else’s expense,” said Rep. Christine Sinicki, Assembly author of the EPEA. This is like their choice to cut billions from our schools, universities and health care in order to give away over $2.3 billion in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporate interests.”
Republicans have argued that women still have the same right to be paid fairly and that eliminating the Act did not change that. But under Gov. Walker’s return to the old, weaker law, there is no incentive for employers to do the right thing because, in the majority of cases, if caught breaking the law, they are only held accountable for back wages and attorneys fees.
“It’s like getting a free pass to discriminate against women workers,” said Sinicki.
“Despite their claims to the contrary, the problem is real, it exists and we were making progress closing the gap until they repealed the EPEA. In doing so they set the clock back on women’s rights in the workplace and our economy,” said Hansen.