Governor Jim Doyle and the State Budget


By The Walker Weekly

Governor Doyle's Denial

On Friday night, Governor Doyle delivered his speech to party activists and promised to sign a budget that protects the middle class from tax increases while maintaining health care and education. Yet the budget plan currently before the legislature raises taxes and fees on Wisconsin families, and according to Todd Berry, President of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, “This may be the worst budget for K-12 education in many decades."

Governor Doyle also said he would “keep Wisconsin moving in the right direction,” even though surveys show that Wisconsinites overwhelmingly believe Wisconsin is on the wrong track. In addition, 96% of the Board of the Directors of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce said the state has “seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” and 2,100 business executives from across the state have signed petitions opposing plans to raise taxes and fees by $3 billion. Still Governor Doyle declared, “We are the party that understands that you don't just talk about developing business, you actually go out and help businesses develop in this state."

We can do better. As I told an enthusiastic group of supporters Saturday in Green Bay, during tough economic times, the first principle that every elected official should be held to is ‘do no harm’ to the families and employers of Wisconsin. Raising taxes by $3 billion dollars and increasing state spending by 7% will create a new burden for state taxpayers and new barriers to job creation.

How will the State Budget Affect You?

My good friend and former colleague, Representative Mike Huebsch provided this summary of budget items affecting Wisconsin families:

Do you own a house? Your property taxes will go up $316 according to the LFB (Legislative Fiscal Bureau) estimate of the increase on an average home.

Do you use a telephone, cell phone, or fax machine? Add 75-cents to your monthly bill for each one in order to fund 911 dispatch centers, plus more to fund an $11 million increase in the existing $30 million Universal Service Fund (which ensures all Wisconsinites have phone service). Then watch helplessly as Governor Doyle and the Democrats siphon $100 million to plug holes in unrelated state programs.

Do you have a child in daycare? Forget about deducting child care tuition and fees from your state income tax. The deduction approved by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Doyle in 2007 has been scrapped. In addition, the per-child licensing fee your child care provider pays to the state is increasing 39%.

Do you pay a portion of your health insurance premium? It’s no longer tax deductible in Wisconsin. This deduction was also established in 2007.

Do you pay for automobile insurance? Your rates will go up about 33% due to higher mandatory coverage amounts.

Are you getting married or having a baby? The marriage and birth certificate fees are doubling.

Is your teenager looking for his or her first summer job? The work permit fee is doubling.

Do you turn on the lights, heat or air conditioning at home? Your utility bill will go up so that you can chip in to fund a $9.1 million annual increase in the existing $105 million low income energy assistance fund. And, you can again watch helplessly as $18.2 billion is drained from the fund during the two year budget period in order to pay for Wisconsin Works (W-2) benefits.

Do you have a child attending a University of Wisconsin school? Tuition for the 2009 school year will go up at least 5% while financial aid is held flat.

Do you have a family member in a nursing home? The nursing home bed tax will double this year and then increase another 13% next year. And, once again, most of those dollars will be used to pay for other programs.

Do you invest in stocks or real estate? You’ll share any earnings with the state treasury now that the capital gains exclusion is slashed.

Do you depend on municipal garbage collection? The “tipping fee” charged to your local government by the state more than doubled.

Do you buy cigarettes? You’ll pay 75-cents more per pack.

Do you download music, ring tones, videos or books from the Internet? You’ll now pay a 5 state sales tax on these digital products.

Do you ever fill your tank with gas? You’ll pay 4-cents more per gallon.

Wisconsin taxpayers need relief from higher taxes and fees, and a state government that prioritizes spending while tightening its belt during tough economic times.

Celebrating Covert Government

Last weekend, Democrat party activists gathered in Green Bay to celebrate their unilateral control of state and federal government. Unfortunately, the party’s elected leaders have adopted the M.O. of crafting major policy changes behind closed doors, then pressing their colleagues to quickly adopt these plans, without a full disclosure of details and a robust public debate.

More often than not, sweeping policy changes which impact the lives of ordinary citizens are passed in the wee hours of the morning when the press and public are fast asleep. Such was the case at 5:15am Saturday when Assembly Democrats passed a $62.2 billion dollar budget by a margin of 50—48 votes before heading to Green Bay for their convention. A few weeks ago, the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee passed its version of the budget at 5:30am, making disastrous last minute changes in order to secure enough votes for passage.

This year’s budget process has helped punctuate the need to make Wisconsin government more transparent and accessible to the people it serves. And while Assembly Majority leader Tom Nelson said the budget process was like “a combination of band camp and math camp," it might be more appropriate to compare the budget process to Rush Week in the movie Animal House. Assembly Republicans were black-balled from the Fraternity party and Wisconsin taxpayers were subjected to hazing in the form of tax and fee increases that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said would affect almost all families. Representative Nelson made no apologies for the Assembly budget which he called, “a fair share budget.”

We knew back in November, whatever party would be in control, they would have to make some really tough decisions and the end product would not be without controversy. Democrats--the state--this country elected Democrats to lead, and here we are.

 

For more information about Scott Walker, you can visit his website at scottwalker.org

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