"The Politics Of Taxes" (August 2006)
Wisconsin residents don’t need a reminder that “we are among the highest taxed” people in the nation – we experience it every time we cash our paychecks or fill up our gas tanks. What we need to discuss is - what drives our "spending” in Madison that leads to these high taxes?
• The current legislative “leadership” raised $765,893 in their campaign accounts - last year between the time the budget was introduced and passed.
• Campaign contributions have more than tripled over the last 12 years, according to the state Elections Board.
• Not surprising, State Spending from the General Fund doubled in the last 6 years. As our structural deficit doubled in the last 6 years.
• On the same day the legislature killed SB 1 a bill that would hold legislators accountable for ethics in office, it changed the Assembly Calendar, allowing solicitation from lobbyists for this fall’s elections.
• Last session, the legislature approved $800 million in highway projects above and beyond the Department of Transportation requests - within weeks of a fundraiser hosted by state road builders netting $98,000 in the campaign war chest of one “leader” alone.
Look at just a few examples from Wisconsin’s budget, and it becomes clear that if we truly want to protect taxpayers, we need to change the behavior politicians and lobbiests and “politics as usual.”
Here are a few solutions: Ban fundraising during the state budget process. Ensure every bill gets a fair hearing and up or down vote. Finally, create a Government Accountability Board SB 1 - to enforce the laws that are already on the books.
There is still time to hold a special session to clean up our act. I urge you to contact the assembly leadership and ask for an extraordinary session on ethics reforms/ SB 1. Wisconsin taxpayer’s can’t afford to wait much longer.