Erik Gunn

Wisconsin Billionaires Grew Richer During Pandemic

State's richest person, John Menard, saw his wealth increase nearly 50%.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Aug 27th, 2021 02:30 pm

John Menard Jr. Photo by Travisvanvelzen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

John Menard Jr. Photo by Travisvanvelzen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin’s eight richest residents have seen their wealth grow by 50% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new advocacy group analysis reports.

Their good fortune makes a strong case for provisions in the federal budget reconciliation bill that would boost taxes on individuals with annual incomes of more than $400,000, says Citizen Action of Wisconsin in a report the organization released Wednesday.

The state’s eight billionaires together commanded a total of $39.4 billion in personal wealth in March 2020, just as the pandemic was gaining a foothold, according to Citizen Action. Over the next 17 months, their collective net worth rose $20 billion, reaching $59.2 billion by this Aug. 17 — a 50.3% appreciation.

“During a pandemic, which had a tremendous economic affect on most Americans and most Wisconsinites, billionaires have done extremely well,” says Citizen Action Executive Director Robert Kraig. “That’s because of how little they’re taxed and how little of their wealth faces taxation, because the system is rigged in their favor. The juxtaposition is shocking.”

The Citizen Action report extracts Wisconsin information from an analysis produced by Americans for Tax Fairness and Health Care for America Now. The two national groups compiled their data from Forbes magazine, which regularly reports on the net worth of the nation’s wealthiest.

The state’s wealthiest resident is John Menard Jr., the home improvement store chain tycoon. Menard’s wealth rose 48.4%, from $11.5 billion as of March 18, 2020 to $17 billion on Aug. 17, 2021. Runner-up Diane Hendricks, owner of the construction materials purveyor ABC Supply Co., saw her wealth rise even more sharply: from $6.9 billion in March 2020 to 11.1 billion in August 2021 — a 61.5% jump.

Judy Faulkner, the CEO of the medical information company Epic Systems, saw the most dramatic increase: Her fortune rose 167%, from $2.5 billion in March 2020 to $6.7 billion in August 2021.

In the same 17-month period, U.S. billionaires’ wealth grew 62%, a $1.8 trillion increase, to $4.77 trillion in August 2021, according to the calculations from Americans for Tax Fairness and Health Care for America Now.

The $3.5 billion budget reconciliation package now in Congress includes measures to pay for universal child care, reduce health care costs and respond to climate change. Kraig says, “These are all things we can get if these billionaires will just pay more of their fair share in taxes.”

The legislation does that by raising the 20% tax on the sale of stock and other investment assets for people whose incomes are $1 million or more a year to match the top tax rate, 37%,  that workers pay on their wages, according to Kraig. It also includes measures to raise top individual income tax rates to 39.6%, close tax-avoidance loopholes, raise corporate tax rates to 28% and eliminate incentives that currently enable  companies to move jobs offshore to avoid taxes, he says.

State billionaires’ wealth skyrocketed during the pandemic republished from Wisconsin Examiner.

3 thoughts on “Wisconsin Billionaires Grew Richer During Pandemic”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Inhuman scumbags who use others. There wealth comes from the people that work for them.

  2. kaygeeret says:

    Because of course they got richer.

  3. Duane says:

    Yes, tax policy is skewed to benefit the rich powerful political donors and certainly creates more wealth for them. But the crown jewel in the wealth transfer scheme is monetary policy set by the Fed. Interest rates are being kept artificially low creating speculative bubbles in most asset classes, the obvious classes being the housing, stock, and bonds markets. The Federal Reserve has stated that US net worth reached a record $130T last year, up $12T from 2019. The top ten percent owned $86T of that wealth, the bottom 50 percent owned less than $3T. In the year 2000 US net worth was $44T with the top ten percent owning about $27T. So over the past 20 years the top 10 percent gained $60T in net worth, the bottom 50 percent gained nothing. Those who own assets are seeing their wealth increase, those that own nothing get nothing. There seems to be no discussion nor political will to do anything about this, probably because the poor contribute nothing to their favorite politicians.

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