Economy and Business
Mon May 21, 2012
Report says state loses tax revenue due to pay inequality
A newly released report details how much Wisconsin loses in tax revenue because women generally make less than men. Pay equity would generate a half billion dollars in state income tax, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Women in Wisconsin working full time year round make about 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. That gap has closed in recent years and Democrats like Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee believe it’s because of a 2009 law that allowed pay discrimination lawsuits in state courts. There wasn't one single pay discrimination lawsuit was filed in state courts the last three years, but Sinicki believed there was a deterrent effect on employers, "Employers were actually following the law and they knew that if they didn't follow the law employees did have a way to collect the money that they lost."
Sinicki says it's not only the female employee who loses when wages aren't on par with men's; she points to a study from the National Partnership for Women and Families showing Wisconsin loses $550 million per year in income tax revenue from women who are making less than a man at the same job, "The amount of money that we are not collecting in taxes would actually cover the (state budget) cuts to k-12 education"
Wisconsin ranks in the middle of other states on the issue of pay equity; so it's neither the worst nor the best. But it has more women in the workforce than most other states, says Laura Dresser. She's with the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, or COWS, "Women work a lot more in Wisconsin. About 66 percent of women are working in this state which is 7th nationally, pretty close to the top."
The Equal Pay Enforcement Act was repealed this year. Now pay discrimination lawsuits go to federal court instead of state court.