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Thread: Theres more at stake than weapons in WIsconsin

  1. #1
    Regular Member bigdaddy1's Avatar
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    Taken from the Milwaukee Journel/Sentinal, a usually liberal paper;

    Madison – The state budget the Legislature takes up this week would change your life, have the potential to change it or cost you more.

    You would have to buy more car insurance coverage, raising your premiums. Police could stop your car if they think you haven't buckled your seat belt. The state tax on a pack of cigarettes would rise 75 cents, to $2.52. There would be a new 75-cent monthly charge on each phone line. And you'd get less of an income tax break on capital gains profits.

    It also authorizes a 1% local sales tax in Milwaukee County for a new regional transit authority, which would subsidize the county bus system and cost the average household $228 a year, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

    As has become the norm in Madison, there will not be even a whiff of bipartisanship. The Democrats - who control both houses - will force the budget through, the Assembly poised for another contentious overnight session; the Republicans will vote against it, likely every one of them.

    But are Wisconsinites prepared for what is coming?

    "Ready or not, we are going to get something along these lines," said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor.

    "What we see is that targeted, narrow tax increases and user fees are preferred by politicians to broad-scale taxes on everyone." Smokers, he noted, are an easy target.

    "The governor and the Legislature are very hesitant to raise taxes across the board, even if a modest increase on many would produce more revenue than targeted taxes on a few," Franklin said. "That is probably good politics. It certainly reflects the continued power of taxes as a campaign issue."

    Gov. Jim Doyle, who is expected to seek a third term next year, and Democratic legislators say the worst recession since the 1930s has forced them to make tough decisions: Cut spending by state agencies; curtail services; furlough workers; withhold raises; and increase taxes and fees by about $2 billion over the next two years.

    The budget the Assembly is expected to pass next week is historic, said Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan (D-Janesville). He was referring to how it would cut agency spending, cancel 2% raises for workers and force up to 1,400 layoffs.

    Sheridan and Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee, which drafted the budget, said it protects middle-class workers.

    Unlike other states that slashed spending on schools and health care, or enacted general tax increases, Wisconsin avoided raising the 5% sales tax and raised income taxes on only the richest 1% of taxpayers, Pocan said.

    Sheridan said he expects the Assembly to pass the budget Wednesday or Thursday. Democrats have a 52-46 margin; there is one independent.

    But when Assembly Democrats met last Thursday to get their first briefing on the budget, there were more questions than answers. It was obvious that it would take leaders days to stitch together the 50 votes needed to pass it in the Assembly.

    Party-line vote
    No Republican is expected to vote for it when it finally passes the Assembly this week and the Senate in the following week. Any differences between the two houses are expected to be quickly resolved, so the budget lands on Doyle's desk by July 1 - when the two-year spending plan is to take effect.

    "The state budget, crafted entirely by Democrats in numerous closed-door meetings, spends nearly $5 billion more than the last budget and raises billions in taxes and fees to pay for it," said Assembly Republican Leader Jeff Fitzgerald of Horicon.

    Republican Sen. Neal Kedzie of Elkhorn called it "arguably the worst state budget" in the state's history. "It would negatively impact every Wisconsin resident, regardless of age, income level, political leaning, or lot in life," Kedzie said.

    Sheridan accused Republicans of "choosing to stay on the sidelines," since they offered no plan to fix a record two-year deficit of $6.6 billion. Republicans have so far been the "party of 'no,' " Pocan said.

    Rhetoric aside, The budget crafted in secret by Democratic legislators and Doyle aides makes history in several ways.

    Deficit: State government is about $6.6 billion short of being able to pay its bills over the next two years, the largest gap in Wisconsin history. That's more than the $6.1 billion Wisconsin residents will pay in personal income taxes in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

    Tax collections:Income, sales, corporate and other taxes will drop by a record 7.1% this year, which is $925 million in lost income. It's also the opposite of the 3% to 4% annual growth pattern of the last 20 years.

    Tax, fee increases:The budget has about $2 billion in tax and fee increases by mid-2011, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. That is in addition to $1.2 billion in separate tax and fee increases approved in February, which were needed to rebalance the current budget.

    "The permanent tax and fee increases are larger than anything I can remember in my 30-plus year career," said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, which monitors state and local government spending.

    Stimulus cash:Legislators will OK spending about $3.7 billion in one-time federal stimulus money. Without it, the tax and fee increases - or cuts in spending - would have been much greater.

    Assembly Democrats would be happy with a repeat of the Feb. 18 roll-call vote on a major bill that repaired the budget that ends June 30. Then, 50 of the 52 Assembly Democrats swallowed hard and voted to raise taxes and fees by $1.2 billion. They were joined by independent Rep. Jeff Wood of Chetek.

    All Republicans voted no.



    How are we supposed to afford our current government??????

    Doyle has GOT to go.
    What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?

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    I just sent an e-mail to Todd Berry regarding some serious overspending by the D.O.C. an investigation is definitely in order.

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    Regular Member bigdaddy1's Avatar
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    Add to the state constitution that requires a Balanced budget. Our government is currently in violation of our constitution.
    What part of "shall not be infringed" don't you understand?

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    bigdaddy1 wrote:
    Add to the state constitution that requires a Balanced budget. Our government is currently in violation of our constitution.
    The government can give two you know whats about following their own laws.

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