(Note: The below does not pertain to Whitefish Bay. But it's a topic many of us care about. If you don't care to read my opinion on the State of Wisconsin's budget and how it will affect citizens in Whitefish Bay, stop reading now.)
On reading the Sunday paper, the MJS had 45 bullet points on the 2009-2011 Wisconsin State budget, passed by the Joint Finance Committee, now going to the Assembly and Senate for passage.
With this budget, the fiscal mis-management of Wisconsin has really reached epic heights. It is simply appalling.
7% spending increase over the last budget, that oh, by the way, was $6.6b in deficit because of the recession already?
I mean, they're kidding, right? If there were any year to reign in spending, this would be it, but instead, the Wisconsin Legislature is going to spend 7% more in this budget than the last budget. This despite the 9.4% unemployment rate, and 290,000 Wisconsinites out of work. Tax revenues way down, deficits way up. Let's spend more!
I realize the state is receiving $3.7B in Federal stimulus spending cash but that is OVER THREE YEARS. That accounts for a small portion of the total proposed increase.
So I read through the 45 bullet point list in the Journal Sentinel and wondered .. if each were put up to a referendum vote in Wisconsin, how many would fail? Here are my guesses:
- Milwaukee County 1% sales tax increase, costing each household an average of $228 per year? - FAIL.
- Phone-line charge - It seems small at 75 cents/month per line, but families with 2-3-4-5 phone lines, that's $18-45/year in extra tax that adds up to $100m more in cell phone bills. FAIL.
- A new 7.75% tax rate might pass to "stick it to the rich" but the provision to tax Capital Gains more would fail, as the number of folks with investments is high. - FAIL
- Stealing $205M from the gas-tax transportation fund to spend on non-transportation items: Gas taxes are for roads. Period. FAIL
- Illegal Immigrants getting drivers' licenses? I believe that would fail a popular vote.
- Abolish QEO - Most agree that teachers are wonderful. I'm married to one. But we all know the QEO is a brake on the compensation expense that consumes the largest portion of school dollars. With revenue caps in place, the school funding revenue pie does not increase. If the QEO is eliminated, all it means is teachers get more of the same size pie, forcing other programs to be shut (quicker) and in the long run, property taxes would go up. FAIL.
- Taxing Oil Companies - It sounds like a good idea, sticking it to oil companies, but I've heard those oil guys have pretty smart lawyers and accountants who can figure out how, duh, to pass on expenses to the consumers. FAIL. (Although who knows, maybe enough people wouldn't think this through.)
- Postpone bond payments, instead only pay interest : In hopes that people realize, if you never pay principle, you never pay back debt. This is just a way for today's politicians to push off today's problems to the future. FAIL.
- Early release of "non violent" prisoners: Example .. Say Whitefish Bay has a couple of drug dealers who get sent to prison. Want to let them out early? Anyone? FAIL.
- Reduce GPS Monitoring of sex-offenders so that their locations aren't monitored moment by moment, but instead, just once daily!? Are they kidding? What good does that do, to know where a sex offender is once per day, then hope they are in the right spot for the other 23 hours per day? FAIL.
- Increase garbage tipping fee: Sure, we think charging Illinois extra dough for dumping their garbage in our state is a dandy idea. But that hits everyone in Wisconsin as well. Want the Village to pay more for your garbage collection, pass that to you? FAIL.
- Change state law in civil-damage cases to allow someone found to be 20% at fault to be ordered to pay 100% of damages. This may sound arcane to most folks, but it will absolutely increase our insurance rates, and only benefits people and lawyers who want to sue those with deep pockets. Can you imagine being 20% at fault, but having to pay 100% of damages? Just not fair. FAIL. (As an example, read this article about how this could put all ski hills out of business.)
- Earmarks: 29 projects, including 20 for $100,000 or more. You've got to be kidding. We're in a recession, scrapping for every dime. $13 million for the Wisconsin Rapids Armory? $4m for planning a museum in Madison? $500k for an opera house in Oshkosh? $100k for a Stone Barn in Oconto?
Luxuries are always nice, but this is not the year: SUPER FAIL. Every one of those items should be stripped out.
I really find the above an amazing list of unpopular items. How do our legislators get away with this stuff?
So .. what can you do? First, Sen. Alberta Darling's vote on the budget will most likely be "NO," meaning there's no real need to lobby her.
If any of the above outrages you, you need to drop an email to our new Rep. Sandy Pasch. The Democrats have a slim majority of 52-46, and need 50 to pass the budget. One Democratic representative has already said he wouldn't vote for the budget. All it takes is 2 Democrats to tip the votes. The budget is being voted on THIS THURSDAY.
Remember .. politicians? They represent YOU. I can't stress that enough.
Sandy Pasch is YOUR representative. She is there to vote for YOUR interests, and the interests of the 22nd District. Do the above bullet points represent you or the 22nd?
I realize the 22nd is a Democratic district, but .. do the above items represent us? Do we agree that spending should increase 7% over the last budget? Really?
Rep. Pasch email:
I'll get you started:
Dear Rep. Sandy Pasch:
I find (insert 2-3-4-5 of the above bullet points) in the Wisconsin State Budget AB75 appalling. Increasing spending 7% over last budget is a terrible idea in this economy.
As my representative, I urge you to vote against the budget as it stands.