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.
One of the top priorities of Governor Doyle and legislative Democrats in the next session in Madison will be the repeal of the QEO, a guaranteed property tax increase.
The Tomah Journal recently editorialized rather succinctly that if the QEO is repealed, the state must find a source for increased teacher salaries. The newspaper writes:
“The QEO operates as both a cap AND a floor for teachers salaries. There are many private-sector workers in Wisconsin who can only dream of a mechanism that guarantees a 3.8 percent annual compensation hike. If teachers start getting raises of 5, 6 or 7 percent instead of 3.8 percent, the money must come from somewhere.”
Of all the options the Tomah Journal lists as sources for the money needed to fund the QEO’s repeal, tax increases seem to be most likely.
Meanwhile, the La Crosse Tribune reports that, “Dale Knapp, research director for the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, said that Wisconsin’s salaries for all teachers are usually at or above national averages but that benefits are usually among or near the top five states in the country.”
The paper also reports that Dan Rossmiller, a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards believes the repeal of the QEO will result in teacher positions being cut.
Read more in the La Crosse Tribune.
When it comes to fiscal matters, the state of Wisconsin always seems to rank at the top, and usually in a negative manner. Our tax rankings, for example, always place us in the top taxed states. The same holds true for our business climate. Here is another example.
Wisconsin has one of the largest state budget gaps in the country according to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). During 2010, Wisconsin is predicted to have a budget gap that will surpass 17.2 percent of its general fund budget. Given our propensity the last several budget cycles to dig ourselves deeper and deeper, this news is not surprising.
Read more in stateline.org.
During August 2007, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) released a poll showing 64 percent of voters supported market-based health care reform and 54 percent of voters disapproved of the government-run health care plan proposed by state Senate Democrats. Wisconsinites opposed the plan because of the potential for health care rationing, waiting lists, and higher taxes. A recent poll by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) demonstrates opposition to a state-run government health care program remains heavy. The WPRI reports:
“There is very little support for the idea of a state-run insurance system. Wisconsin residents believe that if a government-run health insurance system were set up in Wisconsin, out-of-state people would definitely immigrate to Wisconsin to enroll in the system.
We asked a question that dealt with a proposal to replace Wisconsin’s current private health insurance system with a universal health insurance system controlled by the state government. Only 34% of the residents of the state approved that idea while 53% disapproved it. On this particular question there were some demographic differences across the state. 43% of outstate Wisconsin residents approved this idea, while 45% disapproved of it.
In the Milwaukee suburbs, only 26% approved it, while 55% disapproved it. In Madison, 36% of the residents approved it, while 46% disapproved it.
The largest gaps were the political and ideological demographics. 58% of Democrats approved of this idea, while only 13% of Republicans and 28% of residents who said they were Independent approved. Ideologically, 59% of Liberals supported this idea, while only 8% of Conservatives did.
There was also an age spread in support – 50% of residents between the ages of 18 and 24 supported this idea of a state-controlled health care system, but only 28% of our senior citizens 65 and older supported the idea, while 58% disapproved of it.
Finally we asked if Wisconsin established a government-run health care system if residents thought people would move to Wisconsin in order to enroll in this program. 58% said yes, 30% said no. 60% of our residents in Green Bay thought that there would be migration, as did 64% in Southeastern Wisconsin.
The strongest opposition to this question of potential migration came from Milwaukee suburbs where 41% said that there would not be migration and 40% in Waukesha County.Again there were some political and ideological differences. 67% of Republicans thought there would be migration, while 51% of Democrats agreed that there would be migration. Among Conservatives, 67% thought that migration would happen, while only 47% of Liberals felt the same way.”
The survey of 600 Wisconsin residents was conducted between November 9 and 10, 2008. Here are the complete survey results.
State Senate Democrats plan to reintroduce their government health care plan in the next legislative session. The same plan that was rejected in the previous session was estimated to cost an astounding $15.2 billion.
I remind everyone that the Senate Democrats’ plan was ridiculed by the Wall Street Journal and John Stossel of ABC News.
Another key reminder: Government health care isn’t free.
The Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. called the $15.2 billion tax increase, “off the charts.”
The Lakeland Times confirms what many had suspected about this year’s Wisconsin deer hunt that the number of deer killed was down.Lost in the focus on the deer kill numbers is the good news that 2008 was one of the safest hunts on record. The Lakeland Times reports:
“DNR hunter education administrator and DNR's hunter safety expert warden Tim Lawhern, said there were nine total hunting incidents involving firearms during the nine-day hunting period making 2008 the third safest season on record. Sadly, one of the incidents was fatal. Of the nine incidents, six involved shotguns, two involved rifles, and one involved a handgun. Nearly half, about 44 percent, were self-inflicted.”
Read the entire Lakeland Times article
Traditional, incandescent light bulbs are being phased out and the use of fluorescent bulbs has been mandated by the federal government. Part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 approved and signed into law last year calls for the elimination of traditional light bulbs beginning in 2012 leading to an all-out ban in 2014 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs or CFL’s. CFL’s contain dangerous mercury. When broken, the bulbs leak mercury into surroundings, requiring extreme caution and care.
According to Governing Magazine, the problems associated with CFL’s will only get worse. Three years from now, the first batch of CFL’s now being purchased will begin to lose their life. Odds are many consumers will simply dump them in the garbage where their next stop will local landfills all across the United States. Who knows what might happen to the quality of our water and air.
Recycling programs for CFL’s, so far, have not caught on with the public. To work, consumers must forego inertia, change their routine of tossing CFL’s in the trash and actually make a trip to a location that collects the burnt-out CFL’s. The campaign to urge consumers to run out and buy CFL’s was probably more expansive and successful than the future public relations effort to get them to travel to a collection site.
One bulb contains but a tiny amount of mercury, but it is estimated that 290 million CFL’s were sold last year. As Governing Magazine reports, “Once mercury reaches a landfill, the risk of its being released remains forever.”
Landfill operation failures could result in mercury being released into groundwater and the air.
Read more from Governing Magazine.