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Conservatively Speaking

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.

State legislators ask Congress to lift moratorium on drilling


I signed on to a letter sent to the United States Congress with copies to the Wisconsin Congressional delegation and Governor Doyle regarding the high price of gasoline. It reads:

Members of the Congress of  the United States of America

July 28, 2008

We the undersigned, as members of the Wisconsin State Legislature, along with our constituencies, are very concerned about the increasing price of oil and gasoline, as well as its effect on the economy of our state and of the United States as a whole. Resources available within the United States and in surrounding coastal regions are not being adequately utilized. Our reliance upon foreign sources of energy leaves us vulnerable to both market fluctuations in price and potential fuel shortfalls. Further, we are concerned that the resulting transfer of wealth to nations unfriendly to the United States is occurring at an ever-increasing rate. We hereby petition the Congress of the United States of America to repeal the current moratorium on offshore and domestic oil drilling.

The letter is signed by 19 state legislators.

Since 1982, a federal law prohibits offshore drilling in all states except Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and parts of Alaska and California. Record-setting gas and oil prices show the clear need to utilize new sources of energy, especially drilling in our own country.

Last month, officials in Louisiana gave a tour to visiting state legislators to demonstrate that offshore drilling can be done without harming the environment. Louisiana and three other Gulf Coast states signed an agreement with oil companies and environmental groups to push environmentally friendly drilling.

It can be done, so what are we waiting for?

Stateline has more.

Many Wisconsin students unprepared for college

Wisconsin high school students have a long, proud history of exceptional performance on ACT tests, registering some of the highest scores in the country. That is the good news. The bad news is that despite performing well on ACT tests, many Wisconsin high schoolers remain unprepared for college.

The non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) has found that only 29 percent of the state’s 46,430 students tested in 2007 met ACT college-readiness benchmarks in core subjects.

According to WISTAX, “More than three-fourths of the Badger State students were prepared for a college English composition course (77% vs. 69% nationally), but results were lower in social science (60% vs. 53% nationally), college algebra (53% vs. 43%), and college biology (37% vs. 28%). Combining all four subjects, only 29% of 2007 Wisconsin high school graduates were likely to succeed in all four subjects.”

Even the state’s best students fall into this category. WISTAX found, “Between one- and two-fifths of Wisconsin’s most advanced students—those taking classes well beyond the core, i. e., four or more years of classes in all areas, including calculus—were not college ready: English (18%), math (22%), social studies (35%), and science (43%).”

ACT discovered the problem in Wisconsin is the high school curriculum has an inadequate “quality and Intensity” for college preparedness.

Wisconsin students, while faring better than their national counterparts, are following a country-wide trend of high school graduates lacking the skills needed for college. Instructors at colleges and universities have noticed, and even students concede the finding is true.

According to a 2005 survey done by the non-partisan group, Achieve,  “
As many as 40 percent of the nation's high school graduates say they are inadequately prepared to deal with the demands of employment and postsecondary education, putting their own individual success and the nation's economic growth in peril. More than 80 percent of high school graduates say they would work harder, take tougher courses, if they could do high school over again.”

The survey found agreement that the bar is set too low in high school for students and that expectations and standards need to be higher.

Here are details on the Achieve survey.
 The Cato Institute also prepared a report based on the Achieve findings.

Wisconsin students still score well on ACT tests and exceed the national average. However, the WISTAX findings 
show our high school students can and must do better.

Purple Heart Day

Veterans issues

Read more

Bob Lang leads the outstanding Legislative Fiscal Bureau

The state of Wisconsin is blessed to have the services of the outstanding, non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau(LFB). The 16 members of the LFB gather fiscal and program information and analyses, and provide it to the Wisconsin Legislature, its committees, and members of the state Senate and Assembly. Their work is invaluable to the state of Wisconsin.

The LFB is under the stellar leadership of Bob Lang. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Capitol Bureau Chief Steve Walters has written a wonderful profile of Lang for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Lang is very deserving of this tribute that you can read here.

Our country’s wealthy continue to pay the most taxes

Taxes


The Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. released a report, using Internal Revenue Service data, showing the amount 
residents of each income group in each state send to Washington each year. Here are some of the numbers for Wisconsin.

Federal Income Taxes paid by Wisconsin by Adjusted Gross Income Percentile 2006 in $millions:

TOTAL:                      $16, 278

TOP 1%:                    $5,753

TOP 2-5%:                 $2,997

TOP 5%:                    $8,750

TOP 6-10%:               $1,697

TOP 10%:                  $10,447

TOP 11-25%:            $2,765

TOP 25%:                  $13,212

TOP 26-50%:            $2,294

TOP 50%:                  $15,506

BOTTOM 50%:          $772


Percentile’s Share of Federal Income Taxes paid by Wisconsin, 2006

TOTAL:                     100% 

TOP 1%:                   35.34%          

TOP 2-5%:                18.41%          

TOP 5%:                    53.75%

TOP 6-10%:              10.43%

TOP 10%:                  64.18%

TOP 11-25%:            16.99%

TOP 25%:                  81.16%
           
TOP 26-50%:            14.09%

TOP 50%:                  95.26%

BOTTOM 50%:          4.74%


Here are the numbers for the United States.

Federal Income Taxes paid by the United States by Adjusted Gross Income Percentile 2006 in $millions:

TOTAL:                      $999,506

TOP 1%:                    $394,066

TOP 2-5%:                 $203,797

TOP 5%:                    $597,863

TOP 6-10%:               $106,327

TOP 10%:                  $704,190

TOP 11-25%:            $156,205

TOP 25%:                  $860,395

TOP 26-50%:            $108,066

TOP 50%:                  $968,461

BOTTOM 50%:          $31,045
  


Percentile’s Share of Federal Income Taxes paid by the United States, 2006

TOTAL:                       100% 

TOP 1%:                    39.43%          

TOP 2-5%:                 20.39%          

TOP 5%:                    59.82%

TOP 6-10%:              10.64%

TOP 10%:                  70.45%

TOP 11-25%:            15.63%

TOP 25%:                  86.08%

TOP 26-50%:            10.81%

TOP 50%:                  96.89%

BOTTOM 50%:          3.11%


The data reveals higher income filers are paying their fair share in taxes. I advise a healthy dose of skepticism anytime you hear an argument that the wealthy should pay more taxes because they don’t pay enough. Here is the new Tax Foundation report. 

Last November, I wrote a blog on taxes entitled, America’s wealthy paying more than their fair share. According to a report at the time by the Tax Foundation in Washington D.C., I wrote, “America’s richest 25 percent of taxpayers paid about 86 percent of all federal income taxes in 2005, despite earning only 67 percent of the nation’s income. The highest-earning 1 percent alone—those earning more than $364,657—paid a staggering 39.4 percent of all federal income taxes, despite earning just 21 percent of the nation’s income. That means the top 1 percent of tax returns paid about the same amount of federal income tax as the bottom 95 percent of tax returns combined.”

The Tax Foundation has released an updated report using Internal Revenue Service data on individual income taxes from calendar year 2006. The results are the same: the wealthy are carrying a very heavy tax load.

The Tax Foundation reports, “This year's numbers show that both the income share earned by the top 1 percent of tax returns and the tax share paid by that top 1 percent have once again reached all-time highs. In 2006, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 39.9 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 22.1 percent of adjusted gross income, both are significantly higher than 2004 when the top 1 percent earned 19 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) and paid 36.9 percent of federal individual income taxes.”

Here’s another interesting finding from the report: “The top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $64,702) earned 68.2 percent of the nation's income, but they paid more than four out of every five dollars collected by the federal income tax (86.3 percent). The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $388,806) earned approximately 22.1 percent of the nation's income (as defined by AGI), yet paid 39.9 percent of all federal income taxes. That means the top 1 percent of tax returns paid about the same amount of federal individual income taxes as the bottom 95 percent of tax returns.”

You can read the entire report here.
 

The Wall Street Journal also has an editorial.

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