State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
The random telephone survey of 400 residents was taken March 25 through April 5, 2008.
There is a margin of error of +/- 5%.
Biggest Problem Facing Wisconsin
What is the most important problem facing the State of Wisconsin today? (Open-ended)
|Taxes & Budget||Education||Economy & Jobs||Health Care||Environment||Welfare Issues||Crime/ Drugs||Gas Prices||Gov't Ethics|
Most responses in this category were that they were in general too high and that we have too many. Several mentioned property taxes in particular and a couple said that taxes were driving businesses and jobs out of the state.
Economy & Jobs
About half the responses in this category were either economic conditions in general or jobs/unemployment as being the biggest problem. There were several that mentioned cost of living/prices – this was an increase from what we have previously seen. Others mentioned (a few responses each):
- Brain drain
- Too much debt
- Lack of economic development
- Businesses and jobs leaving the state
- Farming is getting tougher, loss of dairy farms
- Lack of high-paying jobs
- Lack of industrial jobs
About half the responses just said “health care” while others mentioned that costs were too high, that insurance costs were too high, or lack of coverage.
About half mentioned that it is underfunded. Something that came up this year was several people mentioning low graduation rates.
Just under half the responses in this category were that Governor Doyle is the biggest problem facing the state, followed by the legislature, liberals, and in general, how the state is being run. Two people mentioned the legal system and how judges are selected as being the biggest problem.
Crime & Drugs
The most frequent mention was crime generally, followed by several mentions of teenagers getting into trouble. Other mentions were gangs, drug abuse, violence, and law enforcement as the problem.
Gas & Energy
Most people said that gas prices were too high, but also included in this category were a few mentions of needing more efficient energy, worry about dwindling supply, or a general sense of energy crisis.
Responses in this category were mixed between general mentions of the budget as the biggest problem, and specifying that it is the budget shortfall/the deficit, too much spending, and the need to reprioritize spending.
Most responses in this category were that welfare and the people on it are the biggest problem facing the state. There were a couple of mentions of poverty and the need for more social programs/spending on social programs.
All responses but one (which said wolves were the biggest problem facing the state) mentioned water pollution. This is a change from previous years where most just mention pollution or need for a clean environment more generally. A few specifically mentioned the fish viruses and the dredging projects underway.
Some states refuse to participate because of America’s political differences with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Stateline.org has the details.
Wisconsin is one of 14 states to increase cigarette taxes over the past two years.
There are concerns the cigarette tax increases will have the following ramifications:
1) Black-market cigarettes will be more profitable.
2) There will be an increase in cigarette smuggling.
USA TODAY has the story.
I was a guest panelist last week on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10’s “4th Street Forum.” The subject for discussion:
WISCONSIN TAXES: WHAT'S ENOUGH? WHAT'S FAIR?
What's the Truth about Wisconsin Taxes?
Are they fairly distributed? Excessively high?
Are some people and businesses getting a good deal at the expense of others?
The program will be repeated this afternoon on Channel 36 at 3 p.m.
The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that last year, Governor Doyle’s administration “quietly dropped” the Accountability, Consolidation and Efficiency, or ACE initiative. The administration promoted ACE, promising a savings to the state of $200 million over four years by determining more effective ways to make state purchases.
My colleague, state Senator Rob Cowles of Green Bay has asked for an audit of ACE. Cowles is correct that during a time of a $650 million dollar revenue shortfall, the state must take every step it can to ensure funding is being spent appropriately and effectively.
Read the Wisconsin State Journal article.